|Common name:||Guavaberry, Rumberry, Mirto|
|Botanical name:||Myrciaria Floribunda|
|Avg Height X Width:||20' x 20'|
|Origin:||West Indies, Central America|
|Damage temp:||28-30 F|
Guavaberry/Rumberry Tree in a 3 Gallon Container. Guavaberry should not be confused with Guava. These trees can be found growing wild in Central America, South America, and Caribbean. It was introduced to Florida, Hawaii, Bermuda, and the Philippines. Plants have red-brown branches and small pink and white flowers. The fruit, which are roughly half the size of cherries, are yellow-orange or dark-red and contain a small amount of translucent flesh surrounding a stone. It has excellent tangy acidic flavor and usually eaten fresh. Also used in beverages, as well as fermented and used in alcoholic drinks, and to make jams. Guavaberry liqueur, which is made from rum, is a common Christmas drink in Sint Maarten and the Virgin Islands. The plant is also used for medicinal purposes.It grows well in dry and moist climates. Can be kept small with pruning. Hardy to short frost, to the upper 20's F.
A tiny fruit, formerly in demand, the rumberry, Myrciaria floribunda Berg. (syns. M. protracta Berg.; Eugenia floribunda West ex Willd.), is also called guavaberry, mirto or murta in Puerto Rico; guaveberry in St. Martin and St. Eustatius; guayabillo in Guatemala; coco-carette, merisier-cerise, or bois de basse batard in Guadeloupe and Martinique; cabo de chivo in El Salvador; escobillo in Nicaragua; mije or mije colorado in Cuba; mijo in the Dominican Republic; bois mulatre in Haiti; roode bosch guave, saitjaberan, or kakrioe hariraroe tataroe in Surinam. In Venezuela the names guayabito and guayabillo blanco are applied to the related species, M. caurensis Steyerm, as well as to some other plants.
This is an attractive shrub or slender tree reaching 33 or even 50 ft (10-15 m) in height, with reddish-brown branchlets, downy when young, and flaking bark. The evergreen, opposite leaves are ovate, elliptical, or oblong-lanceolate, pointed at the apex; 1 to 3 3/16 in (2.5-8 cm) long, 1/3 to 1 3/16 in (0.8-3 cm) wide; glossy, slightly leathery, minutely dotted with oil glands. The flowers, borne in small axillary or lateral clusters, are white, silky-hairy with about 75 prominent white stamens. The fruit is round or oblate, 5/16 to 5/8 in (8-16 mm) in diameter; dark-red (nearly black) or yellow-orange; highly aromatic and of bittersweet, balsam-like flavor; with one globular seed. In Surinam, according to Pulle, there are sometimes deformed fruits, rounded, flattened, leathery, dehiscent, and to 3/4 in (2 cm) across.
Origin and Distribution
The rumberry occurs wild over a broad territory–Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico (including Vieques), the Virgin Islands, St. Martin, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Trinidad, southern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador to northern Colombia; also Guyana, Surinam and French Guiana, and eastern Brazil. It has been occasionally cultivated in Bermuda, rarely elsewhere, but, throughout its natural range, when land is cleared for pastures, the tree is left standing for the sake of its fruits. The plant was introduced into the Philippines in the early 1900's and has been included in propagation experiments in Hawaii. There is a healthy fruiting specimen at Fairchild Tropical Garden, Miami.
O.W. Barrett wrote in 1928: "There are 3 or 4 varieties in the dry hills of St. Croix; these vary as to size and color, but all are intensely aromatic." In St. John, they say the fruits produced by wild trees on Bordeaux Mountain and along Reef Bay Trail are "unusually good".
Climate and soil
In Puerto Rico, the rumberry grows naturally in dry and moist coastal forests from sea-level to an elevation of 700 ft (220 m). In Vieques and the Virgin Islands, it abounds in dry forests up to 1,000 ft (300 m). In South Florida it is growing well, but as a small tree, on oolitic limestone.
In Cuba, the fruits are relished out-of-hand and are made into jam, and the fermented juice is rated as "una bebida exquisita" (an exquisite beverage). People on the island of St. John use the preserved fruits in tarts. The local "guavaberry liqueur" is made from the fruits "with pure grain alcohol, rum, raw sugar and spices" and it is a special treat at Christmastime. In the past, a strong wine and a heavy liqueur were exported from St. Thomas to Denmark in "large quantities".
In Camaguey, Cuba, the rumberry is included among the nectar sources visited by honeybees.
The fruits are sold by herbalists in Camaguey for the purpose of making a depurative sirup; and the decoction is taken as a treatment for liver complaints.