In the Fullerton Arboretum

by Alfredo Chiri

 

Guaibajai ­ hexachlamis edulis ­ myrtaceae

 

Common names: guaibajaí, peach tree-do weeds, cherry-do-river-great, ivahai,

pessego-do-mato, laranjinha, ubajaí, ibajaí

 

 

This bush is a South American native. It grows from São Paulo to the Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil. It still occurs around the Iguazu Falls on the Argentina side and in some areas of Uruguay. The plant possibly is a native of the area of the Iguazu Falls, growing in the forests and enclosed formations of the Parana River basin. Also, it has been found growing in the Mato Grosso¹s Amazonia Forest.

 

The guaibajaí tree is a large shrub, reaching 15 to 30 feet in height.  Heavily formed by fast-growing shoots with multiple crooked ramifications, the trunk surface resembles cork. The stalks, when young, are light brown with few leaves, turning to a grayish-white with pinnacles of leaves.

 

The opposing leaves are narrow and tapering toward the apex and at the base.  The leaves are mildly aromatic, and their points are translucent. Leaves, when young, are of a light green color. As they mature, reaching 5 to 8 inches in length, their color becomes a light green with a touch of blue.

 

The flowers are small and showy, forming in short-stalked clusters at the end of the branches. They are creamy white and fragrant, often used in the perfume industry because of the unique and pleasant odor.

 

The fruit pulp is sweet and stringy with a pleasant peach odor, varying in color from a yellow- white to orange-white, with a large single seed attached to a series of fibrous, thread-like filaments. At the early stages the fruit is light green, turning to a mustard-yellow color at ripening time, becoming 3 to 4 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide, with a thin, irregular outer skin. It has some smooth lumps, similar to those in the papaya. The guaibajaí fruits are edible and are often used for the making of jelly and marmalade.

 

The guaibajaí tree is usually grown from seeds. Most are poly-embrionic, producing 4 to 6 plants per seed. They germinate in 20 to 40 days. Grafting is possible in some cases, but budding is not easily accomplished because of the hardness of the wood.

 

Guaibajaí trees grow best in deep, rich well-drained soil, but they tolerate sandy soils. A fertilizer of 14-14-14 slow-release is placed in a series of pits around the base of the tree. The pits store and gradually release the nutrients.