GUAVA (from the Mexican guayaba), the name applied to the fruits of species of Psidium, a genus belonging to the natural order Myrtaceae. The species which produces the bulk of the guava fruits of commerce is Psidium Guajava, a small tree from 15 to 20 ft. high, a native of the tropical parts of America and the West Indies. It bears short-stalked ovate or oblong leaves, with strongly marked veins, and covered with a soft tomentum or down. The flowers are borne on axillary stalks, and the fruits vary much in size, shape and colour, numerous forms and varieties being known and cultivated. The variety of which the fruits are most valued is that which is sometimes called the white guava (P. Guajava, var. pyriferum). The fruits are pear-shaped, about the size of a hen’s egg, covered with a thin bright yellow or whitish skin filled with soft pulp, also of a light yellowish tinge, and having a pleasant sweet-acid and somewhat aromatic flavour. P. Guajava, var. pomiferum, produces a more globular or apple-shaped fruit, sometimes called the red guava. The pulp of this variety is mostly of a darker colour than the former and not of so fine a flavour, therefore the first named is most esteemed for eating in a raw state; both, however, are used in the preparation of two kinds of preserve known as guava jelly and guava cheese, which are made in the West Indies and imported thence to England; the fruits are of much too perishable a nature to allow of their importation in their natural state. Both varieties have been introduced into various parts of India, as well as in other countries of the East, where they have become perfectly naturalized. Though of course much too tender for outdoor planting in England, the guava thrives there in hothouses or stoves.
Psidium variabile (also known as P. Cattleyanum), a tree of from 10 to 20 ft. high, a native of Brazil (the Araçá or Araçá de Praya), is known as the purple guava. The fruit, which is very abundantly produced in the axils of the leaves, is large, spherical, of a fine deep claret colour; the rind is pitted, and the pulp is soft, fleshy, purplish, reddish next the skin, but becoming paler towards the middle and in the centre almost or quite white. It has a very agreeable acid-sweet flavour, which has been likened to that of a strawberry.