Yellow Strawberry Guava
(Psidium cattleianum subsp. lucidum)
The lemon guava tree overview:
- Lemon guava trees are beautiful, drought tolerant, disease resistant plants that produce a lot of tasty fruit.
Lemon guava fruit appearance:
- As you might have guessed, the ripe lemon guava fruit is yellow. However, when the fruit is developing it is green. On that note, the fruit is usually ready to pick when completely yellow or nearly completely yellow. The fruit should also easily detach from the tree with a light pull when it is ready.
- The flesh is very light yellow in color and somewhat translucent. The flesh is dotted with numerous yellow seeds.
- The ovoid shaped fruit ranges in size from about 1 – 1 1/2 in (2.5-4 cm) in diameter.
Lemon guava fruit taste:
- The whole lemon guava fruit can be eaten. The skin is very thin and hardly noticeable. Because the skin is so thin, it can be easily damaged and difficult to successfully transport. Therefore this fruit is is rarely found in markets or grocery stores.
- The lemon guava fruit flavor is well balanced; sweet and tropical with a subtle sub-acid touch of tang. Some have described it as tasting like passion fruit mixed with strawberry. However, in my opinion, the fruit is nowhere as bright and tangy as passion fruit and does not taste like strawberries at all.
- Perhaps most importantly, the lemon guava fruit lacks the astringency of its cousin the red strawberry guava. For more info about the red strawberry guava, check out my earlier article about the red strawberry guava tree.
- The seeds of the lemon guava are crunchy, but not nearly as hard as the red strawberry guava (or other guavas for that matter). The seeds are just a tad harder than grape seeds but without the bitter taste of grape seeds.
- I am not aware of any named lemon guava cultivars. However, there is quite a variation in the size and taste of the red strawberry guava fruit from tree to tree. None the less, the variation of fruit quality between different trees seems to be less of an issue for the lemon guava.
Lemon guava fruit season:
- Lemon guava trees seem to produce whenever they want from summer to winter (August to March). I have several lemon guava trees in the yard and they are definitely on their own schedule. The only thing they agree upon is that they don’t tend to flower in the mid to late winter.
Lemon guava pollination:
- Bees are the major pollinator insect. Hand pollination is not necessary at all.
- You don’t need to get a separate pollinator guava tree to produce fruit from the lemon guava tree.
- Lemon guava trees are a beautiful evergreen tree/bush. Their natural growth habit/pattern is more of a big bush, but they can be trained into more of a tree form pretty easily. The lemon guava can be used as an ornamental hedge or tree.
- The lemon guava tree has been reported to grow as tall as 40 ft (12 m), however, I have never seen one in California to be more than a quarter of that height. The plants do grow slowly, and that may also be a contributing reason to why I haven’t seen any large ones in my area.
- Their fluffy creamy white fragrant flowers look similar to common guava flowers. The flowers are nice, but not a show stopper by any means and they are easily overlooked from a distance. I notice their tropical aroma before I notice the flowers themselves.
- The plant is evergreen, with leaves that are smooth, glossy and obovate in shape. The leaves do shed a lot which is great for mulching and water conversation. However all of those dropped leaves could be a pain if this plant lives by a sidewalk, porch, pool, etc. Just something to keep in mind before planting.
- As an added bonus, lemon guava trees are disease resistant and drought tolerant when established.
- Lemon guava are said to be able to tolerate a wide range of soil types. When I heard that, I planted a tree directly into my native soil, which is basically decomposed granite and a bit of clay. Needless to say, the results were not good and the poor plant struggled. Before the sad thing died, I dug it up again and gave it the rich soil treatment I give to most of my plants now. Basically I aggressively augmented the soil with grow mulch/compost, and inoculated with Micorriza. Click here for the planting method that I have used with great success.
- For this plant, well draining soil is an important component to your growing success. That being said, some have reported that it will tolerate short periods of standing water. Personally, I am not sure about the standing water idea and I would avoid that type of extra wet environment if possible.
- I water my lemon guava trees about 2 to 3 times a week in the summer. For established trees, I back way off in the cool wet winters of Southern California.
- When established, these plants will tolerate short periods of drought. However, they will be happier, grow better and fruit more, with regular deep watering. Regular deep watering during fruit development will also give you the best crop.
- As with all trees, covering the ground around the base of the tree with a good layer of wood mulch will help to retain moisture in the summer.
- I have not found a lot of useful information regarding the best way to fertilize the lemon guava tree.
- Since they are slow growers, I have taken the strategy of applying small frequent applications of a balanced fertilizer. More specifically; for a tree that is about 4 to 6 ft tall, I throw 2 handfuls of dry fertilizer (such as 15-15-15) around the root zone every 2 months (but skipping winter). I then water the fertilizer in deeply.
- I also use a rich soil mix at planting which likely helps a lot (see above section about soil).
- Lemon guava are categorized as subtropical plants. However, in the tropics, they are often found growing at the higher-cooler elevations. I have read that the lemon guava has not grown well in extra-hot tropical climates such as the lowlands of Singapore.
- Older plants are said to be able to survive temperatures as cold as 22º F (-5.56º C). This is a lower temp than what the common guava can endure. I have never seen cold damage to the lemon guava tree in Southern California.
- Here is a link to article I recently wrote about finding out your specific growing climate zone.
- Lemon guava trees seem to be very bug resistant. In my many years of observation, I have not seen any sign of a parasitic insect infestation such as aphids or scale.
- However, in the tropics, there are many reports of unattended trees being a refuge for fruit flies. The Caribbean fruit fly has been a major problem for the lemon guava fruit in southern Florida. I have not appreciated this problem in Southern California which I suspect is the result of the hot dry weather we have in California during the fruiting season.
- Regardless of where you live, birds do love the fruit. Therefore, it is not a bad idea to use some sort of scare method such as bird scare tape or a mylar pinwheel just before and at the harvest season. As with any fruit, other animals such as raccoons and squirrels can get into your crop. For more information on that, check out a recent article I wrote about how to deal with and get rid of squirrels.
- Gophers, gophers, gophers… Those freekin gophers will eat this plant and most other plants as well. Therefore you really have to address that underground issue or you will loose your tree. Cage-ing the roots of your trees is a must. Heres a link to a quick article I wrote on how to make a gopher cage.
- Propagation is usually achieved by seed, sometimes from cuttings, and rarely by grafting. I have not tried propagating this plant yet, but apparently the seeds require 4 to 12 weeks to germinate. That’s quite a range. From what I have read, best results are achieved when soils are constantly moist and kept at around 70 to 85 deg F.
- Grafting is difficult because of this plants thin bark.
- Lemon guava’s are very tasty right off the tree. However, the fruit is also used to flavor drinks and desserts.
- Because the fruit’s delicate thin skin, commercial growers usually skip retail stores and ship directly to processing factories. At commercial factories, the fruit is also made into things such as jelly, jam, butter, paste and sherbet.
- The lemon guava is native to coastal areas of Eastern Brazil and adjacent regions.
- The lemon guava grows very very well in other parts of the tropics. As a result, this plant has become a highly invasive species in places like Hawaii.
- Yellow Strawberry Guava
- Yellow-fruited Cherry Guava
- Waiawī (Hawaii)
- Araçá (Brazil)