Fruits green at Wahinepee, Maui, Hawaii



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Psidium guajava

Myrtaceae

L.

Fruits green at Wahinepee, 



Maui, Hawaii (Forest and Kim Starr)

Fruit at Makawao, Maui, Hawaii (Forest and 

Kim Starr)

LOCAL NAMES

 Amharic (zeituna); Arabic (juafa,juava,guwâfah); Bengali 

(goaachhi,piyara,peyara); Burmese (malakapen); Creole Patois (gwayav); 

Dutch (goejaba); English (common guava,guava); Filipino 

(bayabas,guyabas); French (goyava,goyavier); German 

(Guavenbaum,guava); Hawaian (kuawa); Hindi 

(goaachhi,jamba,amrud,amarood,sapari,safed safari); Indonesian (jambu 

biji); Japanese (banjiro); Javanese (jambu klutuk); Khmer (trapaek sruk); 

Lao (Sino-Tibetan) (si da); Luganda (mupeera); Malay (jambu 

berase,jambu biji,jambu kampuchia,jambu batu); Mandinka (biabo); 

Portuguese (goiaba); Sanskrit (mansala); Sinhala (koiya,pera); Spanish 

(araza-puita,gauyaba blanca,perulera,guaiaba dulce,guayaba,Guayaba 

agria,guayaba común,guayabillo,agria); Swahili (mpera); Tamil (koyya); 

Thai (ma-man,farang,ma-kuai); Tigrigna (zeitun); Urdu (amrud); 

Vietnamese (oi)

BOTANIC DESCRIPTION

Psidium guajava is a large dicotyledonous shrub, or small evergreen tree, 

generally 3-10 m high, many branches; stems crooked, bark light to 

reddish brown, thin, smooth, continuously flaking; root system generally 

superficial and very extensive, frequently extending well beyond the 

canopy, there are some deep roots but no distinct taproot. 

Leaves opposite, simple; stipules absent, petiole short, 3-10 mm long; 

blade oblong to elliptic, 5-15 x 4-6 cm, apex obtuse to bluntly acuminate, 

base rounded to subcuneate, margins entire, somewhat thick and 

leathery, dull grey to yellow-green above, slightly downy below, veins 

prominent, gland dotted.

Inflorescence, axillary, 1- to 3-flowered, pedicles about 2 cm long, bracts 

2, linear. Calyx splitting irregularly into 2-4 lobes, whitish and sparsely 

hairy within; petals 4-5, white, linear-ovate c. 2 cm long, delicate; stamens 

numerous, filaments pale white, about 12 mm long, erect or spreading, 

anther straw coloured; ovary inferior, ovules numerous, style about 10 cm 

long, stigma green, capitate.

Fruit an ovoid or pear-shaped berry, 4-12 cm long, weighing up to 500 g; 

skin yellow when ripe, sometimes flushed with red; pulp juicy, creamy-

white or creamy-yellow to pink or red; mesocarp thick, edible, the soft pulp 

enveloping numerous, cream to brown, kidney-shaped or flattened seeds. 

The exterior of the fruit is fleshy, and the centre consists of a seedy pulp.

From the Greek psidion (pomegranate), due to a fancied resemblance 

between the two fruits.

BIOLOGY

The pollen is viable for up to 42 hours and the stigmas are receptive for 



about 2 days. Bees are the principal pollinators. There is some self- and 

cross-incompatibility but several cultivars have set fair crops of seedless 

or few-seeded fruit. Levels of 60-75% selfing have been found in natural 

populations; this has been used to produce homozygotic varieties that can 

be propagated from seed. It is not known to what extent erratic flowering 

through the year affects pollination intensity. One of the most critical 

botanical characteristics of guava is that flowers are borne on newly 

emerging lateral shoots, irrespective of the time of year. The floral 

structure, which makes emasculation difficult and with a juvenile period of 

3-5 years limit conventional breeding. 

Seedlings may flower within 2 years; clonally propagated trees often begin 

to bear during the first year after planting. Trees reach full bearing after 5-

8 years, depending on growing conditions and spacing. The guava is not a 

long-lived tree (about 40 years), but the plants may bear heavily for 15-25 

years. Bats are the main fruit dispersal agents.

Flower at Makawao, Maui, Hawaii (Forest 

and Kim Starr)

Page 1 of 5

Agroforestry Database 4.0 (Orwa et al.2009)


Psidium guajava

Myrtaceae

L.

ECOLOGY


P. guajava appears to have evolved in relatively open areas, such as savannah/shrub transitional zones, or in frequently 

disturbed areas where it is a strong competitor in early secondary growth. In some areas it is found in large thickets with 

as many as 100 plants in an area of less than half a hectare, although it is more often found in densities of 1-5 plants/ha. 

P. guajava is considered a noxious weed in many tropical pasture lands (when chemical control is not available, guava 

proliferation may result in the abandonment of a pasture).

The guava is a hardy tree that adapts to a wide range of growing conditions. It can stand a wide range of temperatures; 

the highest yields are recorded at mean temperatures of 23-28 deg. C. In the subtropics quiescent trees withstand light 

frost and 3.5-6 months (depending on the cultivar) of mean temperatures above 16 deg. C suffice for flowering and 

fruiting. It fruits at altitudes up to 1 500 m and survives up to 2 000 m. Guava is more drought-resistant than most tropical 

fruit crops. For maximum production in the tropics, however it requires rainfall distributed over the year. If fruit ripens 

during a very wet period it loses flavour and may split.

BIOPHYSICAL LIMITS

Altitude:  0-2 000 m, Mean annual temperature:  15-45 deg. C, Mean annual rainfall:  1 000-2 000 mm 

Soil type:  Soils vary widely, including slightly to strongly acid. As expected from a secondary colonizer, it grows well on 

poor soils with reasonably good drainage, however growth and production are better on rich clay loams.

DOCUMENTED SPECIES DISTRIBUTION

The map above shows countries where the species has been planted. It does neither 

suggest that the species can be planted in every ecological zone within that country, 

nor that the species can not be planted in other countries than those depicted. Since 

some tree species are invasive, you need to follow  biosafety procedures that apply to 

your planting site. 

Exotic range

Native range

Colombia, Mexico, Peru, United States of America

Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, 

Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Greece, Guyana, Haiti, India, 

Indonesia, Israel, Kenya, Laos, Malawi, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, 

Philippines, Puerto Rico, Samoa, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, 

Togo, Uganda, Venezuela, Vietnam

Native:


Exotic:

Page 2 of 5

Agroforestry Database 4.0 (Orwa et al.2009)

Psidium guajava

Myrtaceae

L.

The map above shows countries where the species has been planted. It does neither 



suggest that the species can be planted in every ecological zone within that country, 

nor that the species can not be planted in other countries than those depicted. Since 

some tree species are invasive, you need to follow  biosafety procedures that apply to 

your planting site. 

PRODUCTS

Food:  The whole fruit is edible; flavour varies from very acid to sweet with the best fruit being both sweet and mildly 

acid. It has a pleasant aroma, is very high in vitamin C (10-2 000 mg/100 g of fruit), and a rich source of vitamin A and 

pectin (0.1-1.8%). Pectin content increases during ripening and declines rapidly in over-ripe fruit.

Table varieties with good taste, large size and high pulp to seed ratio, have been developed for the fresh fruit market in 

many countries. Other varieties have been developed for the industrial purposes and the following wide variety of 

products are available: canned fruit or mesocarps in sweet syrup, puree, goiabada (a type of thick, sweet jam), jams 

and jellies, juices and nectars, ice cream and yoghurts. Guava paste, or guava cheese as known in the West Indies, is 

made by evaporating the pulp with sugar; it is eaten as a sweetmeat. A firm in the Philippines dehydrates slices of the 

outer, non-seeded part of the fruit to make a similar product. In some Asian countries such as Indonesia, the leaves are 

used in cooking.

Apiculture:  White fragrant flowers secrete nectar in excess all day attracting bees, which also collect juice from the 

damaged fruits. In India for instance, the blossoms occur in May and June. 

Fuel:  Wood makes excellent firewood and charcoal because of its abundance, natural propagation, and classification 

as an undesirable weed.

Timber:  Sapwood light brown, heartwood brown or reddish; hard, moderately strong and durable. It is used for tool 

handle, fence posts and in carpentry and turnery.

Tannin or dyestuff:  The leaves and bark may be used for dyeing and tanning.

Essential oil:  Plant contains an essential oil. The volatile oil with methylchavicol, persein and d-pinene (a paraffin) is 

found in the leaf.

Alcohol:  Winemaking from the fruit has been commercialized in southern Africa. 

Poison:  P. guajava has insecticidal properties. 

Medicine:  All parts of the young fruit are astringent. Guava exhibits antibacterial action against intestinal pathogens 

such as Staphyloccocus. The dried ripe fruits are recommended as a remedy for dysentery, while the leaves and fruits 

are used as a cure for diarrhoea. Oil contains bisabolene and flavinoides that exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. A 

decoction of the leaves or bark is taken externally as a lotion for skin complaints, ringworm, wounds, and ulcers. Water 

from soaking the fruit is good to treat diabetes. The leaves are made into a cataplasm; cooked, they are given to horses 

with strangle.

Some suggested treatments are digestive tract ailments, cold, and high blood pressure: leaf decoction or fruit juice with 

salt or sugar taken orally. Trauma, pain, headache, and rheumatism: hot leaf decoction compress. Sore throat, hoarse 

throat: leaf decoction, gargle. Varix, ulcer: leaf decoction, treated with warm water, bath. Hepatitis, gonorrhoea, and 

diarrhoea: clear fruit juice.

SERVICES

Ornamental:  Widely cultivated as an ornamental fruit tree.

Boundary or barrier or support:  P. guajava has been used to stake yams (Dioscorea spp.); the small tree is cut back 

and used to support them. Yield increases of 33-85% have been recorded in Nigeria.

Intercropping:  Performed very well when intercropped with fodder crops such as maize, sorghum and cowpeas. Tree 

growth reduction is very small.

Pollution control:  Identified as useful for bio-indication and as a bio-accumulator in India. It is sensitive to sulphur 

dioxide; sensitivity to injury based on chlorophyll destruction.



Page 3 of 5

Agroforestry Database 4.0 (Orwa et al.2009)

Psidium guajava

Myrtaceae

L.

TREE MANAGEMENT



For intensively managed orchards in Thailand trees are spaced only 4-6 m apart but seedlings for fruit processing may 

be spaced up to 10 x 8 m apart. Irrigation during the dry season and frequent light pruning to promote the emergence 

of flowering shoots are employed for continuity of production throughout the year. When the crop is cycled most 

fertilizer is applied as a basal dressing at the end of the harvest, if necessary supplemented by a top dressing; if trees 

are cropped continuously, fertilizers are applied in several small doses. Growth rate is excellent and the plants coppice 

readily. Branching is extensive and pruning is necessary to form good orchard trees. Firewood cuttings cause 

excessive propagation by formulation of sprouts and suckers. 

Best time of day to harvest is early morning because by noon fruit is warmer and deteriorates more rapidly. During 

harvesting, great care is necessary to avoid fruit damage, as when collected almost ripe, they will only store for about 2-

3 days at room temperature. Fruit for industrial purposes do not need such care but greater speed is still essential. 

Average yields are between 30-40 kg/plant in 5 year-old plants and will reach a maximum production of 50-70 kg at 

about 7 years if well managed.

GERMPLASM MANAGEMENT

Seed storage behaviour is orthodox; seeds at 6% mc survive 24 hours in liquid nitrogen; no loss in viability following 66 

months hermetic storage at -20 deg. C with 5.5% mc.

PESTS AND DISEASES

Insect pests are numerous and in some cases severe. Fruit fly maggots such as Anastrepha striata, Dacus spp. and 

Ceratitis spp. are especially troublesome. Aphids (Aphis spp.) feed on young growth, causing the curling of leaves. 

Selenothirps rubrocinctus, the red-banded thirp; adult and larval forms puncture leaves of the infested tree and 

brownish stains appear. Heavily infested trees are sometimes completely defoliated.

In Brazil yellow rust (Puccina psidii) is an extremely serious fungal pest, as are leaf spot (Phyllosticha guajayae) and 

anthracnose (Colletotrichum gloeosporioides). The green scale (Coccus viridis) occurs on branches. Fruit rot 

(Glomerella cingulata) shrivels green fruit and rots ripe fruit. Mushroom root rot (Clitocybe tabescens) can eventually 

kill the tree.



Page 4 of 5

Agroforestry Database 4.0 (Orwa et al.2009)

Psidium guajava

Myrtaceae

L.

Orwa C, A Mutua, Kindt R , Jamnadass R, S Anthony. 2009 Agroforestree Database:a tree reference and selection guide 



version 4.0 (http://www.worldagroforestry.org/sites/treedbs/treedatabases.asp)

SUGGESTED CITATION

FURTHER READNG

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Agricultural and Pastoral Communities. Regional Soil Conservation Unit (RSCU), Swedish International Development 

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Verheij EWM, Coronel RE (eds.). 1991. Plant Resources of South East Asia No 2. Edible fruits and nuts. Backhuys 

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Agroforestry Database 4.0 (Orwa et al.2009)


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