Other Names: Jaiphar, Guave, Goyave, Guayabe, Guaiava
Guavas are evergreen trees that grow to over 25 ft with spreading branches although unlikely to grow to over 10 feet in the UK climate. The bark is smooth, mottled green or reddish brown and peels off in thin flakes to reveal the attractive 'bony' aspect of its trunk. The plant branches close to the ground and often produces suckers from roots near the base of the trunk.
Raw guavas are eaten out-of-hand, but are preferred seeded and served sliced as dessert or in salads. The fruit is sometimes cooked. A standard dessert throughout Latin America and the Spanish-speaking islands of the West Indies is stewed guava shells (cascos de guayaba), that is, guava halves with the central seed pulp removed, strained and added to the shells while cooking to enrich the syrup. The canned product is widely sold and the shells can also be quick-frozen. They are often served with cream cheese. Sometimes guavas are canned whole or cut in half without seed removal.
The guava thrives in both humid and dry climates. It can survive only a few degrees of frost. Older trees, killed to the ground, have sent up new shoots which fruited 2 years later. The guava requires an annual rainfall between 1,000-2,000 mm and will bear more heavily in areas with a distinct winter season than in the deep tropics.
Guava does equally well on heavy clay, marl, light sand, gravel bars near streams, or on limestone; and tolerating a pH range from 4.5 to 9.4. It is also salt-resistant. Good drainage is recommended but guavas are seen growing spontaneously on land with a high water table–too wet for most other fruit trees.
Guava seeds remain viable for many months. They often germinate in 2 to 3 weeks but may take as long as 8 weeks. Guava trees cannot be depended upon to come true from seed, vegetative propagation is widely practiced.Guavas can also be grown from root cuttings. Pieces of any roots except the smallest and the very large, cut into 10-20 cm lengths, are placed flat in a prepared bed and covered with 5-10 cm of moist soil. The roots in the ground half to a metre away from the tree trunk can also be cut through which then sprout and can be dug up and transplanted.