Origin botanical facts

The feijoa is native to South America, specifically the cool subtropical and tropical highland areas of southern Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina. The plant was introduced to California in the 1890s, and even though the feijoa is not in great demand commercially, 1,000 acres in California are dedicated to its cultivation. Some fruit is imported to the United States from New Zealand.

The feijoa is a slow-growing evergreen shrub that can be retrained to be a small tree or pruned to form a dense hedge or screen. Unpruned, it can reach 15 to 20 feet in height and in width. Its thick, oval leaves are green on top and silvery underneath, a feature that makes it an attractive plant when ruffled by a breeze. The flowers of the feijoa, formed singly or in clusters, have white petals with bristly, scarlet stamens.

Feijoas thrive in a variety of soils, but they do best in well-drained, non-saline soil. They prefer cool winters and moderate summers; the fruit is less flavorful in warm climates. Propagation is most successful by cuttings and by layering and grafting. Trees propagated from seed do not produce fruit until they are 3 to 5 years old, and the fruit may be inferior in quality.

Feijoas mature 4 1/2 to 7 months after the flowers bloom, depending on the climate. Fruit that is picked when it is still firm will ripen at room temperature, but feijoas are most flavorful when allowed to remain on the tree until they are ready to drop. Harvesting is accomplished by shaking the tree and letting the fruit fall onto a tarpaulin to prevent bruising.


Feijoas should be firm and unblemished. They should be eaten within 3 to 4 days of purchase or refrigerated up to a month. Feijoas should be peeled before eating, because the skin is bitter. Immersing the peeled fruit in water and fresh lemon juice keeps it from turning brown. Feijoas usually are eaten fresh as desserts or used as garnishes or in fruit salads. They can be stewed or baked in puddings, pies, and pastries or made into jellies and preserves.

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