If you grew up in the tropics you know: a guava is perfectly ripe when you can smell it without even putting it to your nose; some you can detect from across the room. They taste is uniquely tropical, almost a combination between a strawberry and a pear. The soft flesh surrounds hundreds of hard little, edible seeds – don’t bother to chew them. Its juice is frequently referred to as “the nectar of the gods.”
The word guava is a derivation of the Arawak word for the tree: guayabo, which has since naturalized throughout the tropics and subtropics in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, Florida and other countries. This seasonal fruit, scientifically known as Psidium guajava, has a round or pear-shaped yellow skin when ripe with a white or maroon flesh, depending on its type, and has small hard seeds enveloped in its soft, sweet pulp. The common types of guava include apple guava, yellow-fruited cherry guava, strawberry guava, and red apple guava. They are mostly eaten raw (ripe or semi-ripe) or consumed in the form of juice, jams, and jellies.
In Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua and other Central American countries, there is another species of guava known as the “cas guava” Psidium friedrichsthalianum which is another popular backyard fruit tree. The flesh is almost exclusively used to make a delicious drink as it is usually very acidic. It is also used to make jams, jellies, and preserves. The RFCI in Miami actively propagating this species for distribution to its members.
As guavas are frequently attacked by the Caribbean fruit fly, home gardeners welcome the insect resistant guava cultivar ‘Bogor‘ with open arms from Indonesia. The Bogor cultivar is available from the Rare Fruit Council Int’l., Miami at plant their plant sales in limited quantities.
In Southeast Asia, a larger white variety with a crispy texture is a popular as an ‘on-the-go’ snack fruit. Seedless varieties are also popular in Indonesia and Thailand but are not yet available in Florida in large quantity via the commercial nursery trade. One of our original RFCI founders, Dr. George D. Ruehle created the well known ‘Homestead‘ cultivar in the 1940’s.
The parents of this hand pollinated hybrid were a red ‘Ruby‘ & white ‘Supreme‘ which resulted in the ‘Homestead‘ cultivar, the namesake is attributed to its hybridization at the Tropical Research & Education Center in Homestead’s Redland. Although commonly referred to as the Ruby x Supreme, the true cultivar name of this fruit is Homestead.