The Jaboticaba is a wonderful, slow growing, small, multi-branched, evergreen tree which has the most delicious fruit. Coming from Brazil this group of four species of the Myrtle family are distantly related to Guava and feijoa.
The bark of the tree tends to peel as the tree gets bigger exposing a beautiful, smooth, brown new bark. Leaves are small and simple, the new leaves having a reddish tinge.
Flowering is in up to five flushes throughout the year, the small white flowers covering the trunks and branches. In a good flush they look a little like a covering of snow. Following the flowering small, green, round fruit form which rapidly grow to the size of a marble and in some species to the size of an old fashioned fifty cent piece. Gradually they turn purplish and finally nearly black with a most attractive high sheen on the skin a little like raku fired pottery. This takes about six weeks.
When the fruit falls off with a gentle tug it is the time to eat them. When opened the white, juicy flesh is delicious but the tough skin is full of tannins which tend to be a bit astringent. I find that if the fruit are held for several days the skin tends to become thinner and the flesh juicier. The fruit must not be picked too soon as I have found that they don’t get any sweeter even if it is left for several days. The fruit is usually eaten fresh but it can be made into drinks, jellies, jams and a very good red wine.
Jaboticaba appreciate plenty of water over the dry times but do not like waterlogged soils. Light frost is tolerated but this affects the cropping over the summer. They are not tolerant of coastal conditions.
The tree seems to have no disease problems but birds can play havoc with the ripe fruit. The fruit drilling moth also damages them too.