Cherry guavas – Psidium littorale (aka Psidium cattleianum)
Of all the perennial edible plants that grow and bear well in south eastern Australia, this one comes second to none.
A medium size shrub (1.5m to 3m), Psidium littorale has it all for itself. It is frost hardy (to -4c) and will fruit abundantly in full sun, part shade and still give a respectable yield in almost full shade. It doesn’t seem to mind living in a pot, seems to tolerate most well drained soils and will often start fruiting from the first summer after planting.
They also fruit very late in summer to early winter, and sometimes keep green fruits on until spring for a early first flush.
They doesn’t need pruning to fruit well, and a bit like its relative the feijoa, it can be used to create an edible hedge.
The fruits are delicious, tangy and extremely high in vitamin C and other goodness. The seeds tend to be a bit tough, specially with the red varieties, but this shouldn’t damper your enthusiasm, as the seeds can be sieved out when making a jam or a stew. Or chewed right through. Otherwise, yellow cherry guavas seems to have much softer seeds, and skin.
One understands why most if not all of the gardens we design and build see a few of them being planted. So versatile, hardy and delicious…
Originally native to Brazil, it has been introduced on all continents, with a huge success. Once again, like a lot of interesting food plants, it has also made a bit of a bad name for itself in tropical areas where it tends to behave like a… weed. A yummy weed that is.
One can imagine how easily the little seeds get through the digestion of little birds. The plants tends to grow in very dense monotypic stands. As with most weeds though, they do prevent the REGROWTH of native vegetation. Native vegetation that had previously been removed, disturbed or destroyed… In most cases by human activity.
The risk of cherry guavas becoming weedy in and around Melbourne is quasi nil (as long as the climate doesn’t warm up too much!), so we can keep on planting them in every backyard!
I WANT IT!
If you are wondering where you can buy them, most nurseries worth the name stock them. Even the big green hardware place thing, if you can survive going there.
Now, most 0f them sell young seedlings, and you will be quite a few years from eating the fruits of your labor. CERES’ Permaculture and Bushfood Nursery seems to have a constant supply of beautiful mature specimens. That’s definitely the place to go to if you are after quality edible plants.
The yellow cherry guava is our favorite variety, and the nursery at CERES is one of the rare ones that tends to keep both red and yellow in stock.