Psidium cattleianum: Strawberry Guava1

Edward F. Gilman, Dennis G. Watson, Ryan W. Klein, Andrew K. Koeser, Deborah R. Hilbert, and Drew C. McLean 2

Introduction

This upright, multi-branched, evergreen shrub or small tree has many features which make it a popular landscape choice. Unfortunately, strawberry guava has escaped cultivation and has infested ditch banks and other wild areas in south Florida, and its use should be tempered. Capable of reaching 25 feet in height but often seen at 10 to 15 feet, the thick, smooth, dark green, four-inch-long, leathery leaves nicely complement the smooth, grey-brown to golden bark which attractively peels off in thin sheets. The single, white, one-inch-diameter flowers have many prominent stamens and look like powderpuffs in miniature. The blooms appear heaviest in April but can open sporadically throughout the year.

Figure 1. Full Form - Psidium cattleianum: strawberry guava
Figure 1.  Full Form - Psidium cattleianum: strawberry guava
Credit: UF/IFAS

General Information

Scientific name: Psidium cattleianum

Pronunciation: SID-ee-um kat-lay-ee-AH-num

Common name(s): strawberry guava, cattley guava

Family: Myrtaceae

USDA hardiness zones: 10A through 11 (Figure 2)

Origin: native to Brazil

UF/IFAS Invasive Assessment Status: invasive and not recommended (South); caution, may be recommended but manage to prevent escape (North, Central)

Uses: shade; deck or patio; specimen; espalier; fruit; container or planter; highway median

Figure 2. Range
Figure 2.  Range

Description

Height: 15 to 25 feet

Spread: 10 to 25 feet

Crown uniformity: irregular

Crown shape: round, vase

Crown density: moderate

Growth rate: moderate

Texture: medium

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: opposite/subopposite

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: entire

Leaf shape: obovate, elliptic (oval)

Leaf venation: pinnate, brachidodrome

Leaf type and persistence: evergreen, broadleaf evergreen

Leaf blade length: 1 ½ to 4 inches

Leaf color: dark green on top, paler green underneath

Fall color: no color change

Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. Leaf - Psidium cattleianum: strawberry guava
Figure 3.  Leaf - Psidium cattleianum: strawberry guava
Credit: UF/IFAS

Flower

Flower color: white

Flower characteristics: showy; fragrant; emerges singly or in groups of 3 at leaf axis

Flowering: year-round

Fruit

Fruit shape: round or obovoid

Fruit length: 1 to 2 inches

Fruit covering: fleshy berry

Fruit color: purplish red

Fruit characteristics: attracts birds; showy; fruit/leaves a litter problem

Fruiting: year-round

Figure 4. Fruit - Psidium cattleianum: strawberry guava
Figure 4.  Fruit - Psidium cattleianum: strawberry guava
Credit: UF/IFAS

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/branches: branches don't droop; showy; typically multi-trunked; no thorns

Bark: gray to reddish brown, smooth, and peeling

Pruning requirement: little required

Breakage: resistant

Current year twig color: green, brown

Current year twig thickness: thin, medium

Wood specific gravity: unknown

Figure 5. Bark - Psidium cattleianum: strawberry guava
Figure 5.  Bark - Psidium cattleianum: strawberry guava
Credit: Gitta Hasing, UF/IFAS

Culture

Light requirement: full sun to partial shade

Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; alkaline; acidic; well-drained

Drought tolerance: moderate

Aerosol salt tolerance: moderate

Other

Roots: not a problem

Winter interest: no

Outstanding tree: no

Ozone sensitivity: unknown

Verticillium wilt susceptibility: unknown

Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases

Use and Management

The 1.5-inch-diameter, bright red, pear-shaped fruits ripen to a very dark red in July and are a popular treat - for people and wildlife. Birds, raccoons, and squirrels all love the delicious, sweet-tart, white flesh and will widely spread the small, grape-like seeds. The abundant, fallen fruits may be messy on hard surfaces such as walks and cars, and trees should probably not be planted along residential streets or over sidewalks or patios. It would make a good small boulevard or median street tree and accents an area with its well-shaped canopy and interesting trunk form. It combines well with other plants in a shrub border and provides both food and cover for wildlife.

Strawberry guava grows well in full sun or partial shade on a wide range of soils, including sand or clay, but fruit quality is improved on rich soils. Plants are drought-tolerant once established but benefit from a thick, organic mulch. Any necessary pruning should be done after fruiting. Pick the fruit for eating before the fruit fly larvae discover it.

Psidium littorale var. littorale, lemon guava, is slower-growing and has large yellow fruits with delightful, spicy flavor.

Propagation is by air-layering's or by seeds. Seeds germinate easily and rapidly. Seedling plants take seven or eight years to bear fruit.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases are of major concern. Fruit fly larvae devour the fruit but do no harm to the tree.

Reference

Koeser, A.K., Friedman, M.H., Hasing, G., Finley, H., Schelb, J. 2017. Trees: South Florida and the Keys. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Footnotes

1. This document is ENH-687, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2018. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu for the currently supported version of this publication.
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department; Ryan W. Klein, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department; Andrew K. Koeser, assistant professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center; Deborah R. Hilbert, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; and Drew C. McLean, biological scientist, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #ENH-687

Date: 2019-04-24
Southern Trees Fact Sheets

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Contacts

  • Andrew Koeser