Updated: Aug 30, 2021
Low maintenance, evergreen, and tasty bits of guava fruit! Picked too early, these berries had a sweet but "pine flavor," only the deep red ones have the strawberry guava-like sweetness I was hoping to add to my breakfast last fall (Fall 2021 update: picked when ripe and loving it). Regardless of my impatience, this evergreen shrub is worthy for its form (with occasional shaping), deep green foliage, and the reward of petite white flowers in the spring followed by the pea-sized fruit. The Chilean guava is slow growing and low maintenance, which to the avid gardener, means care can be redirected elsewhere while reaping the reward of its fruit. Our specimen is thriving in our rocky, alluvial soil with average watering, but it may be receiving too much shade despite prolific fruiting. I can see this shrub as a hardy, less care intensive substitution for blueberry shrubs, as one idea.
Botanical Name: Ugni molinae
Ugni: Mapuche, uñi, a vernacular name for this species.
Molinae: Honoree, cleric and botanist Juan Ignacio Molina
Common Name: Chilean guava; uñi
Family Name: Myrtaceae
Origin: Chile, Argentina
Positioning: Middle ground, along paths for harvesting fruit
Garden Themes: Mediterranean, sub-tropical, kitchen, cottage, courtyard/patio, container
Uses: Fruit harvest/edible, informal/formal hedge, mass, border, foundation
Type: Evergreen shrub
Form: Irregular and open when young may become more dense and round with age.
Size: 6' tall and wide
Outstanding Feature(s): Flower
Stem: Green, pubescent
Color: New growth may be bronze turning dark green above, light green underneath when mature
Surface: Glabrous, stiff/leathery, possibly fragrant when crushed
Flower: Sprint to summer. Very small, pendulous bell or cup-shaped white with pink spots, fragrant. Self-fertile.
Fruit: Autumn. Small (pea-size) berry, purple-red when ripe, fleshy, flavorful
cultural requirements, tolerances & problems
Sunset Zones: 14-24
USDA Zones: 8-10
Light: Sun, part shade in warmer regions
WUCOLS SF Bay Area Hydro Zone: Moderate
Texture: Sand, loam, clay, chalk
Moisture Retention: Well-drained with brief periods of dryness
pH: Highly acidic to slightly alkaline
Problems: Not recorded at time of posting.
Branch Strength: N/A
Disease: Silver leaf
citations & attributions
Bayton, R. (2019). The Royal Horticultural Society's the Gardener's Botanical: An Encyclopedia of Latin Plant Names. London: Mitchell Beazley.
Flora Species. "Ugni molinae." New Zealand Plant Conservation Network, Manganui. Accessed on August 30, 2021, from https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/ugni-molinae/.
Norris Brenzel, K. (Ed.). (2012). The New Sunset Western Garden Book. New York: Time Home Entertainment, Inc.
Plant Doctor. "Invasion of Thrips." Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture, Lincoln. Accessed on August 30, 2021, from https://www.rnzih.org.nz/Plant_Doctor/WG144_Invasion_of_thrips.htm.
Plants for a Future Database. "Ugni molinae - Turcz." Plants for a Future, Devon. Accessed on August 30, 2021, from https://pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?latinname=Ugni+molinae.
Water Use Classification of Landscape Species. "WUCOLS IV Plant List." University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Davis. Accessed on July 27, 2021.
Flower detail: "Ugni molinae-02" by Archibald Tuttle is licensed under Wikimedia Commons.
Container plants: "Edulis - Chilean guava" by Karen Blakeman is licensed from flickr.
All other photos by TELCS.