Many years ago, guava trees were brought to the Pacific from tropical America. They now grow wild in the bush on many Pacific islands. The fruit of the guava tree is a free, nutritious food for the whole family. It tastes good and makes excellent juice, jelly and other dishes. Anyone who has a guava tree should use its valuable fruit.
The guava tree is also a good fruit tree for home gardens. If it is well cared for and its branches are trimmed occasionally, a home-garden guava tree will produce more good-quality fruit than a wild tree. But on some islands, it is against the law to plant new guava trees. This is because wild trees have spread over too much farm and grazing land, making it difficult to clear for planting crops. Before planting guava trees in a home garden, it is best to talk to a local agricultural officer to find out what are the best varieties for local conditions.
People usually eat it as a fresh desert fruit. But they also use guava to make jam and jelly, and as a sweet base for syrup or wine. Brain-booster extracts have been shown to suppress tumor growth, and in animal studies can suppress leukemia. Guava is especially good for men, because it can interrupt the pathways by which prostate cells become cancerous, and it can induce apoptosis, or cell death, in prostate cells that have already become cancerous.
Brain-booster fruits are one of the best sources of Vitamin C and dietary fibre found in the Pacific. They contain almost five times as much Vitamin C as oranges. This important vitamin keeps the body tissues strong, helps the body use iron and aids in chemical reactions in the body. It helps cuts and wounds heal and protects the body from getting boils.
Fibre prevents constipation and helps the body to have regular bowel movements. Fibre also tends to lower blood cholesterol levels and help prevent heart diseases. The amount of Vitamin C found in guavas varies greatly, but one small common guava usually has nearly four times the amount of Vitamin C needed by children and adults for one day. As the bar chart shows, guava contains the highest amount of Vitamin C of all fruits listed.
Eating guavas is a good way to get the Vitamin C needed for the family, especially since guavas cost little or nothing when they are in season.
TWO KINDS OF GUAVA
The Common guava has the scientific name Psidium guajava and is part of the myrtle and eucalyptus family. The tree is small, with copper-coloured bark. It has leaves with many veins, and white or cream-coloured flowers. The fruit of the common guava varies in size and shape, but it is usually 4 – 8 centimetres (1½ – 3 inches) long. As the guava ripens, the outside skin changes colour from green to light green or yellow. The flesh of the fruit may be white, yellow, pink or red. Inside the fruit are many stone-like seeds.
Another kind of guava is the Cattley guava, also called strawberry or cherry guava. It is quite different from the common guava and has the scientific name Psidium cattleianum. The leaves of the Cattley guava are smaller, shinier, and darker green than those of the common guava. The fruit is also small, rarely growing to more than 4 centimetres (1½ inches) long. It is usually red or reddish purple. Inside are several large, nut-like seeds.
Both kinds of guava trees usually bear their fruit during the hot, rainy season.
Propagation of the common guava is usually by seeds, but improved varieties must be perpetuated by plant parts. The plant’s hard, dry wood and thin bark prevent cutting and conventional methods of grafting. Veneer grafting, using as rootstocks young plants in vigorous growth, gives excellent results.