Garden View: Guava trees easy to grow and healthy

BY BARBARA STORZ

Guava (Psidium guajava) is a small tree native to the tropical Americas. Once established, it is reasonably drought tolerant and, like many fruit trees, guava trees do best by removing branches that compete with the central branch so that the tree does not break from an overload of fruit.

It is sensitive to windy conditions and needs protection from hot, dry winds, which may cause leaves to be distorted. Planting about 15 feet from a fence or other structure is helpful, or plant in a grove of with other trees. Guava is also sensitive to temperatures below 27 degrees Fahrenheit and, if unprotected, young trees may suffer dieback.

Guava is a major commercial crop for areas of southeastern Asia, Brazil and Mexico. It is grown in tropical and subtropical areas around the world. Guava fruit is eaten fresh, made into jams, or pureed to use as a flavoring in drinks or utilized in pastries and sauces.

Guava is a high energy fruit and is loaded with beneficial nutrients that protect us from certain cancers, improve digestion and contribute to heart health. The fruit is low in calories and is an excellent source of folate and fiber, and is high in Vitamin C. It is a good source of Vitamin A and flavonoids like beta-carotene (especially pink varieties), lutein and lycopene. These all have antioxidant properties that support good health.

Guava is also a rich source of potassium and is a moderate source of the B-complex vitamins, as well as Vitamin E and K, niacin and minerals such as magnesium and copper. It supports eye health and the magnesium helps muscles and nerves relax.

Even the leaves of guava are steeped as a tea with anti-inflammatory action and antibacterial properties that have been used to fight oral infections and kill germs.

The Growing Growers Farmers Market will have a selection of locally grown guava as well as guava jams. The market is open from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays.

Barbara Storz is a local horticulturist. You can listen to her gardening show 7 a.m. Saturdays on 710 KURV Radio or e-mail her at bstorz@rcommunications.com.