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Guabiyu, iba-viyu

Guabiyu, iba-viyuGuabiyu fruit (also known locally as iba-viyu) grows on the Myrcianthes pungens tree in sub-tropical areas of South America. In Uruguay, it grows in the sierras and the shores to the north of the Rio Negro in the western part of the country. It is a large tree with beautiful long bark. Its foliage is persistent, compact and dark green with sharp thorns, and it produces numerous white flowers that have a delicate aroma. It flowers in October and November, and the harvest takes place in February and March. The fruits are small and purplish with one or two large seeds. The pulp is yellow-green and firm. It has excellent flavor that is very sweet and juicy. They can be eaten fresh with or without the peel, like a grape. Guabiyu fruits can also be processed to yield a very good jam. They have great nutritional value, as they are rich in antioxidants. They are the preferred fruits of many bird species and also attract deer, foxes, and other animals that consume the fruit. The agricultural production of this native fruit is relatively new, born out of the need to reproduce the indigenous forest trees. The consequences of changing the Uruguayan geography by the agricultural model include the disappearance of the forest trees. Consumption of guabiyu has fallen with the introduction of new fruits, and the trees risk extinction in their native area of the mountains of northern Uruguay. In Uruguay and around the world there are records of the use of these native fruits, primarily in the artisanal industry. These fruits have value due to their flavor, aroma, sensory qualities, color and their reference to a region. In 2013, the production of the fresh fruit for was about 300 kg, of which about 100 kg were for jams and the rest as frozen pulp for gastronomy, coming from only four producers in the area.

Image: © Laura Rosano

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Río Negro