Pineapple guava is also known as Feijoa, Guavasteen, and by its botanical name, Feijoa sellowiana. It is a perennial fruit tree that is native to northern Argentina, Uruguay, parts of southern Brazil and Columbia. The fruit has a green skin and off-white, gritty flesh that is juicy and sweet. The flavor is often described as a combination of guava, pineapple and strawberry. The flower petals are also edible and have a sweet flavor.
The pineapple guava tree has been reported to grow up to 18 feet (5.49 meters) tall. It has light gray bark, and its edible flowers are large and white with purple coloration in the center, red stamens and yellow pollen. The leaves are thick and elliptical, with the top side being light green and the bottom side a silvery color. The fruit's skin is waxy and can either be smooth or rough. Because of the pineapple guava's attractive features, it is often used as a landscaping tree.
Pineapple guava is considered to be somewhat cold hardy and can be grown as far north as Georgia in the US. The tree is not self-fertile, and requires two or more trees in order to bear fruit. They typically grow well in full to partial sun, but often produce the best growth in full sun. The roots should be deeply watered about twice a week, although older trees may become drought-resistant. It can take between four to six years for a tree to start producing fruit. Once fruit appears, it normally ripens within four to seven months.
Care must be taken when harvesting the fruit from pineapple guava trees. If it is picked too early, it may not ripen. The fruit bruises fairly easily, so it should not be left to fall off of the tree. It typically is ready to be picked when there is a separation between the fruit and stalk — if the fruit falls off when the tree is shaken, it is ripe and ready to eat. Since the fruit ripens from the inside, this is the only way to tell when it is ready for harvest.
Nutritionally, the fruit is high in vitamins A and C, fiber, copper, manganese, folate and potassium. It is low in sodium, cholesterol and saturated fat. Besides being eaten raw, the fruit can be made into jellies, jams, desserts and smoothies.
The pineapple guava tree got the name “Feijoa” when it was named after the Brazilian botanist, Joam de Silva Feijo. Pineapple guava was collected in Brazil by the German explorer Freidrich Sellow in the year 1815. In 1890, it was brought to Europe by the French botanist, Dr. Edourard Andre. The fruit is now produced commercially in New Zealand and the US state of California.