Myrtaceae

Luma apiculata (Myrtus luma, Eugenia apiculata) - kelümamüll (Mapuche), luma, arrayan

L. apiculata's edible, blueberry-like fruit.

L. apiculata's edible, blueberry-like fruit.

BACKGROUND, ORIGIN and DISTRIBUTION

Luma apiculata (also variously known as Eugenia apiculata and Myrtus luma) is a member of the  Myrtaceae family and related to such ethnobotanically significant plants as Jaboticaba, Clove, Allspice, Eugenia spp. Psidium spp. etc. The list goes on and on. The Myrtaceae family includes huge number of useful plant species.

Luma apiculata is native to temperate areas of South America, where it can be found growing along waterways in the Valdivian temperate rainforests in Chile and Argentina. The tree can live for hundreds of years and grows up to 15 m (50 ft) tall. 25 meter trees have been recorded.

USES AND ETHNOBOTANY

L. apiculata flower.

L. apiculata flower.

L. apiculata produces an abundance of fragrant flowers and an edible berry with a flavor reminiscent of blueberries and Myrtle (M. communis). As with M. communis, there appears to be some variation in fruit quality, ranging from not so good to excellent. Not much information is available on the historic and cultural uses of Luma apiculata, however considering the edibility of the fruit I imagine it was semi domesticated and used for edible and medicinal purposes by pre-Colombian indigenous populations of in its native range.

PROPAGATION AND CULTIVATION

Luma can be propagated from semi-hardwood cuttings or seed. The plant is frost tolerant and relatively drought tolerant once established.Plants will flower and bear fruit within a few years from seed and even sooner from cuttings. This is a great species for temperate climate agroforestry systems.

Luma apiculata does very well in the Bay Area (California).

New flush of leaves on Luma apiculata. 

New flush of leaves on Luma apiculata. 

Myrciaria glazioviana - Yellow Jaboticaba, Cabelluda

Psidium Cattleianum - Strawberry Guava

Native to Brazil, Cattley Guava was brought to China by the Portuguese. From China it was introduced into Europe where it is known as Strawberry Guava, it can also be found cultivated in the Mediterranean, Hawaii, Florida, California, Mexico and throughout Central America. P. cattleianum is a very attractive shrub, however it can grow up to eight m in height. The leaves are dark brown and somewhat glossy, the bark is shiny and peeling. The fruit are 3-4 cm in diameter, considered by many to be the best species of guava. There are red and yellow varieties.

The Strawberry guava is rich in vitamin C and contains 4.5% sugar, 6% fiber and 1.1% protein.

strawbg
strawbg
strawberry-g1
strawberry-g1

Myrciaria floribunda - Rumberry, Guavaberry

A close relative of Camu-camu. This is native to dry and moist coastal forests of tropical America. Bears a small, bright orange berry. The flesh is strongly fragrant. Makes an excellent jam or juice. At Christmas time in parts of the Lesser Antilles (W. Indies) a Guavaberry rum is made. This is a delicious, aromatic, rum-based liqueur that has apparently been brewed for centuries.

M. floribunda is a very slow growing species, rarely found cultivated in its region of origin, although wild trees are typically left in pastures that have been cleared of their vegetation.

I know of a single tree and have harvested fruit once. Bears heavily.

In my experience the small, hard seeds can take a while to germinate. After months of waiting for germination I kind of lost track of them. Eventually I got a few sprouts. A light scarification might prove beneficial in expediting the process. Next season i'll germinate a few dozen, as this is a very uncommon in interesting tree.

Syzygium samarangense - Java Apple

This is an air layered variety I got from Taiwanese agronomistsIn Panama

Syzygium jambos - Rose Apple

rose-apple-buds.jpg

Originally from Southeast Asia (East India and Malaya) the Rose Apple has been introduced into tropical regions around the world. It is very common in the Caribbean, brought by English colonizers. Apparently it is being grown in the San Francisco area of N. California. The tree grows with a broad, dense canopy, usually relatively small (5 m), but can reach heights of 20 m. The leaves are long and thin.

The name Rose Apple comes from the scent of the flowers and the taste of the fruit, both of which strongly resemble roses, or rose water. The fruit is round, 3 -5 centimeters in diameter and yellow in color, typically eaten raw, but also used in jellies due to the high pectin content. The fruit contains up to 11% sugar and is considered to be a good source of calcium, iron (2 mg/100 g) and niacin (1.1 mg/100 g).

This species makes a great windbreak due to its low, dense growth habit.

rose-apple-flower.jpg

The tree is often wider then it is tall, makes a spectacular ornamental tree, but needs ample space and sun. Although it is somewhat cold hardy, it should be protected from frosts.

Eugenia stipitada - Araza

Thought to be native to the Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon, still not very widely cultivated. Araza is typically consumed fresh, used to prepare excellent juices. The flavor and texture is considered to be superior to the guava. The most notable benefits of this species are, A) that it is shade loving. Unlike most fruit trees, Araza prefers at least partial shade. I have seen it growing and producing fruit in the dappled shade of understory, below two canopies. B) Given the right conditions the tree can bear fruit within a year and a half or two years of growth. Once a tree begins bearing it can be depended up on to flower and fruit fairly consistently. C) Fruit are large, seeds are easy to separate. D) The fruit is versatile. Excellent as a base for sauces, juices, and so forth. Usually used for juices. Consumed with Miracle Fruit it is almost disgustingly sweet. Araza is extremely rich in carbohydrates (7%) and vitamin B1.

The tree thrives in humid tropical climates, adapted to at least 2,000 mm annual rainfall and to poor, acidic soils.

Myrciaria cauliflora var. ? - Dwarf jaboticaba

The Jaboticaba originates in Southern Brazil where it is one of the most popular fruits, in some parts of the country this is the most common fruit in markets.

Typically Jaboticaba trees grow from 10 - 12 meters high and can take from 6-8 years to bear fruit when grown from seed, and even longer (8-10) when grown in lower, hotter climates.

The variety photographed below is a dwarf, only about two and a half feet tall, bears three times a year, and has larger leaves then the common Jaboticaba. The skin is thin enough to be eaten. As long as it gets irrigated when fruiting, this particular variety seems to do great in the lowland, dry humid tropics.

This is a stem bearing tree. When it is in full bloom the trunk and thicker branches are covered in an almost fuzz like layer of flowers, then the bulbous fruit appear and grow quite rapidly. It seems to take about 15-20 days from flower to mature fruit on this tree.

I'm trying to grow as many as I can. It's bearing right now (end of April).

Dwarf Jaboticabajpg
Dwarf Jaboticabajpg
Dwarf Jaboticaba Flower
Dwarf Jaboticaba Flower
Dwarf Jaboticaba, young fruit
Dwarf Jaboticaba, young fruit
dwarf jaboticaba fruit
dwarf jaboticaba fruit
Dwarf jaboticaba, fruit
Dwarf jaboticaba, fruit
dscf63212
dscf63212
Jaboticaba fruit close-up, cross-section
Jaboticaba fruit close-up, cross-section

Myrciaria cauliflora - Jaboticaba

The Jaboticaba originated in Southern Brazil. In Rio de Janerio it is one of the most popular fruits, widely available in markets. It is not very widely cultivated outside its area of origin. The tree yields a fruit similar in size and shape to a grape, which is eaten raw, in sweets and marmalades, and used in the preparation of wine.    Nutrition: Jaboticaba is high in sugars and vitamin C.    

The Jaboticaba requires a cool, humid, subtropical climate for best growth and production, but it will not support freezing temperatures. Humidity is important for the production of fruit. The tree prefers deep, well drained soils, high in organic matter.  The tree is most commonly propagated from seed, needing six to eight years to produce fruit in a hot climate, 10 – 15 years in cooler climates. Aside from this inconvience, the jaboticaba is widely considered to be one of the best tropical fruit trees. A tree in full production can yield up to five harvests a year.