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Ugni molinae

Updated: Aug 30


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.



facts

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


design considerations


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


identifying characteristics


Type: Evergreen shrub

Form: Irregular and open when young may become more dense and round with age.

Texture: Medium

Size: 6' tall and wide


Outstanding Feature(s): Flower


Stem: Green, pubescent

Leaf:

  • Type: Simple

  • Arrangement: Decussate

  • Shape: Elliptic

  • Margin: Entire

  • 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

Soil:

  • Texture: Sand, loam, clay, chalk

  • Moisture Retention: Well-drained with brief periods of dryness

  • pH: Highly acidic to slightly alkaline

Tolerances: Drought

Problems: Not recorded at time of posting.

  • Branch Strength: N/A

  • Insects: Thrips

  • 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.

https://ucanr.edu/sites/WUCOLS/Download_WUCOLS_IV_List/.


Photos:

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