Jaboticaba make beautiful, landscape plants

The Jaboticaba is a small bushy tree with profuse foliage of dark green sheen and leathery texture which makes it a beautiful landscape plant. Some species of this tree can grow to a height of 45 feet. However, the Jaboticaba trees found in the US reach a height of 12 to 15 ft. The trees have upward slanting branches, beige to reddish thin bark and long and slender leaves.

It has yellowish-white flowers that bloom almost magically five times a year. The flowers turn into grape-like fruits whose color ranges from dark purple to almost black. These fruits are thick-skinned with a slightly acidic but likeable taste. The seeds contain an acidic flavored, gelatinous white substance, but fresh fruits are delicious and suitable to make jams, jellies and wine.

The tree flourishes well in deep soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. It enjoys full sun, some shade; it tolerates wind but does not like salty wind or alkaline soil. The young trees require protection, and should be given nutrient sprays containing iron, and well-balanced fertilization – monthly when young and three times a year when fully grown.

Since the tree has shallow root system, the use of organic material around the plant’s base is highly helpful. Similarly, because of its shallow root system, it needs frequent watering but not flooding. It is not well inclined to frost and needs some overhead protection during winter months.

For propagation, the best method is grafting because seedlings are slow to grow. Grafted plants bear fruits within three years whereas seedling trees take 8 to 15 years. Peat, compost or rotted manure can be mixed with the soil before planting and it must be ensured that the crown of the plant remains 2 to 3 inches above the surrounding soil. The fruits and flowers are susceptible to fungus infection and need treatment.

Harvesting is done when the fruit is soft like grape. It is a fruit much relished and grown in Brazil, South America, California and Florida. It has great commercial possibilities but at present the only drawback is its slow growth and frost sensitivity.

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