Feijoa, Guayabo del país
A tree or shrub (Acca sellowiana) native to Uruguay and southern Brazil, guayano, or feijoa, grows naturally in the mountains and has adapted to shallow soil. It has grayish green, persistent foliage. Its flowers are very attractive, with four thick petals that are pinkish-white on the outside and red on the inside. It also has numerous sweet, edible red stamens. The plant flowers in October and November for over one month. Its flowers attract birds that feed on the petals, effectively contributing to the pollination of flowers. Externally, the guayano fruits are green when ripe. Their edible pulp is white, slightly ivory or pink and has a pleasant sweet and sour taste. The harvest period extends from late February to end of May, depending on the plant. Guayano fruit has a good shelf life and nutritional and medicinal qualities, like high mineral and antioxidant quantities. The fruit is excellent for making quality jams, jellies and juice (both on its own or mixed with citrus or other fruits). Cuttings or grafts are used in plant production, as with guayano it is not possible to guarantee pants with identical qualities from the seed alone. There is a great diversity of plant varieties and sub-species scattered throughout the country, both in the wild and in cultivated areas, differing in appearance, leaves, fruits, flavors and productivity. In many cases, pollinating plants are needed for good crops, both in quality and quantity of fruit. Used since the 19th century as an ornamental plant, guayana was taken to Europe and then distributed into several regions. The fruit is now commercially cultivated in several countries. In Uruguay, it is possible to find very old trees in parks and gardens, in established groves and in rural and urban areas, showing that this species was used in the fruit growing industry of generations past. Its ornamental value, flavor, nutritional properties make it of a particular importance. The production of the fresh fruit in 2013 was about 2000 kg, of which about 500 kg were used to produce jams and liqueurs, and 1000 kg was for fresh consumption, sold privately and in fairs. The remaining 500kg were used for commercial cooking, sold in the form of frozen pulp or fresh fruit. There are currently seven commercial producers of this fruit in Uruguay.
Image: © Laura Rosano