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Psidium cattleyanum

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Psidium cattleyanum
red cattley guava
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Myrtales
Family: Myrtaceae
Genus: Psidium
P. cattleyanum
Binomial name
Psidium cattleyanum
  • Episyzygium oahuense Suess. & A.Ludw.
  • Eugenia ferruginea Sieber ex C.Presl
  • Eugenia oxygona Koidz.
  • Eugenia pseudovenosa H.Perrier
  • Eugenia urceolata Cordem.
  • Guajava cattleiana (Afzel. ex Sabine) Kuntze
  • Guajava obovata (Mart. ex DC.) Kuntze
  • Psidium ferrugineum C.Presl
  • Psidium indicum Bojer nom. inval.
  • Psidium littorale Raddi
  • Psidium obovatum Mart. ex DC.
  • Psidium variabile O.Berg

Psidium cattleyanum (World Plants : Psidium cattleianum),[2][3] commonly known as Cattley guava, strawberry guava or cherry guava, is a small tree (2–6 m tall) in the Myrtaceae (myrtle) family. The species is named in honour of English horticulturist William Cattley. Its genus name Psidium comes from the Latin psidion, or "armlet."[4] The red-fruited variety, P. cattleyanum var. cattleyanum, is commonly known as purple guava, red cattley guava, red strawberry guava and red cherry guava.[2] The yellow-fruited variety, P. cattleyanum var. littorale is variously known as yellow cattley guava, yellow strawberry guava, yellow cherry guava,[2] lemon guava and in Hawaii as waiawī. Although P. cattleyanum has select economic uses,[2][5][6] it is considered the most invasive plant in Hawaii.[7][8]



Psidium cattleyanum is a small, highly-branched tree that reaches a maximum height of 13 meters, although most individuals are between 2 and 4 m.[9] P. cattleyanum has smooth, grey to reddish-brown bark, with oval to elliptical leaves that grow to 4.5 cm in length. It bears fruit when the plants are between 3 and 6 years old. This fruit has thin skin that ranges from yellow to a dark red or purple, is ovular in shape, and grows to around 4 cm in length. Its flowers grow either individually or in clusters of three, and each flower has five petals.[9]

P. cattleyanum reproduces through setting seed and through cloning. Clonally produced suckers tend to have a greater leaf area.[10] Though native to Brazil, it is now distributed throughout many tropical regions.[6][8] It was introduced in Hawaii as early as 1825 to create an agricultural market for its fruits, but it has yet to be a commercially viable product. It is now highly prevalent in tropical rain forest ecosystems due mainly to accidental transportation and its invasive plant properties.[6][11]

P. cattleyanum has modest economic impacts in Hawaii due to its edible fruits.[2][12] However, products made from P. cattleyanum are not commercially available because of a lack of market and the heavy presence of fruit flies. This renders the fruits inedible soon after they are picked.[12] Its seeds have many health benefits, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties in addition to a high amount of vitamin C.[9][13]



P. cattleyanum occurs primarily in mesic tropical rainforest environments[10] at an elevation of up to 1300m, but is found primarily below 800m.[14] Its native range is restricted to the Amazonian Basin in Brazil, but it has established in many other tropical areas of similar characteristics.[7][10]

P. cattleyanum does not dominate plant communities in its native range.[6] But, it is invasive due to its robust tolerance to many different environments.[15] P. cattleyanum is prevalent in both undisturbed[10] and highly disturbed roadside habitats in its invasive range.[14] Its invasive quality may be explained by a high amount of genetic variation, as variants of different fruit colors cluster at different elevations.[16] Additionally, P. cattleyanum is both very shade-tolerant[14] and able to withstand soils with a moderate to high pH level.[17] It is also capable of withstanding heavy leaf litter and responding to bending or breaking of its branches by generating vigorous shoots.[16]

P. cattleyanum is often associated with invasive feral pigs[10][15] The two species are often found near each other, most likely because feral pigs aid in the spread of P. cattleyanum. The pigs disturb habitats by digging in the soil, making it easier for P. cattleyanum seeds to reach the soil. Additionally, feral pigs may ingest the fruits, whose seeds reach the soil in the scat of the feral pigs.[10]

Preliminary research suggests that P. cattleyanum is allelopathic,[14] as its roots have been found to inhibit the growth of at least two other plant species when soil pH was not a factor.[18]

Invasive species

Invasive growth in Hawaii

Native to Brazil where it is known as araçá (ara-SAH) and adjacent tropical South America, it is closely related to common guava (P. guajava), and like that species is a widespread, highly invasive species in tropical areas throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans.[7] It also occupies humid subtropical forests[19] such as in the Azores, though it is not as invasive there.[20] It tends to form dense, monotypic stands which prevent regrowth of native species, and is very difficult to eradicate; it also provides refuge for fruit flies which cause extensive agricultural damage.[21] It is able to propagate quickly due to the spread of its seed, which occurs as its seeds fall and as birds and feral pigs transport fruits,[10] as well as through its root sprouts.

It was introduced to many of the areas it now invades due to human usage as a crop for its edible fruit.[8]

Cattley guava is sporadically naturalised in coastal areas of Queensland and northern New South Wales. It is also naturalised on Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island and Christmas Island (Navie 2004; Queensland Herbarium 2008). The yellow variety bears even more heavily than the red and generally has larger fruit.[22]

P. cattleyanum grows effectively in undisturbed areas,[10] complicating restoration efforts in sensitive habitats. Its ubiquity in damaged ecosystems further muddles management due to its high dispersal from these less-sensitive habitats to more fragile habitats.[16]

P. cattleyanum acts as an invasive by creating dense thickets that crowd out sunlight, limiting the potential for other plant species to coexist.[23] Its ability to thrive in a variety of different habitats under many different ecological conditions[16] threatens native flora of many different habitat types.[23] Additionally, its potential allelopathic qualities[14] further complicate the ability of other plant species to coexist.[18]

Guava is also one of the most invasive species on Réunion where it is a threat to the endemic forests.

Control strategies

Dense thicket growth in Hawaii forests

A variety of management strategies have been applied to P. cattleyanum management efforts due to its ubiquity and the various ways it spreads.[11] Despite the great threat that P. cattleyanum poses to many tropical ecosystems, some studies indicate that isolated groups can be totally eradicated after three to four years of proper management applications, such as cutting and burning mature individuals and applying herbicide to stumps.[12] However, continued follow-up management is necessary indefinitely after a period of high-intensity restoration.[12] This management strategy, known as the “special ecological areas,” is one of the strongest ways of controlling plant species over time.[12] It works by focusing wood removal, burning, and other management efforts in the designated efforts.[12]

Feral pigs and non-native birds contribute to the spread of P. cattleyanum via seed dispersal. Thus, some control efforts involve removal and control of invasive fauna.[10] However, results from such efforts are often unsuccessful due to the lack of dependence upon the animals for dispersal, as germination occurs under a wide variety of conditions.[10]

Another management technique is the introduction of insects that act as parasites on the invasive plants.[11] This biological control approach is used because certain insects cause damage to P. cattleyanum in a way that either prevents the tree from reproducing or kills them outright. Most of the proposed insects infect the tree with bud or leaf galls, effectively preventing fruit growth or photosynthesis.[11] For example, Dasineura gigantea caused bud galls that inhibited shoot growth.[11] The Brazilian Scale is a potential biological control agent used in Florida,[24] and Hawaii.[25] However, some insects cannot be used due to the potential for certain species to attack more than P. cattleyanum.[11] Once such species, the sawfly (Haplostegus epimelas), attacked commercially produced guava plants in addition to invasive P. cattleyanum.[11]



The whole fruit can be eaten as both the thin skin and juicy interior are soft and tasty. It can also be used to make jam and juices. The skin is often removed for a sweeter flavour. The seeds are small and white in colour. Its leaves may be brewed for tea.[26] The wood of the tree is hard, compact, durable, and resistant, and is used for lathe work, tool handles, charcoal, and firewood. The plant is indispensable for mixed planting in reforestation of reclaimed and protected areas in Brazil.[27]

Necklaces are reported to be handcrafted in Tanzania by tying together beads made of individual fruits.[28]



  1. ^ The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species, retrieved 6 May 2016
  2. ^ a b c d e USDA-ARS. "GRIN Taxonomy for Plants". Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  3. ^ Missouri Botanical Gardens. "Tropicos.org". Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  4. ^ "Definition of PSIDIUM". www.merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  5. ^ State of Hawaii. (2010). Biocontrol of Strawberry Guava by its Natural Control Agent for Preservation of Native Forests in the Hawaiian Islands. Department of Land and Natural Resources, 54.
  6. ^ a b c d US Forest Service. (2016). Strawberry Guava: Not All Green Is Good. Pacific Southwest Research Station.
  7. ^ a b c "Strawberry Guava - Psidium cattleianum - Overview - Encyclopedia of Life". Encyclopedia of Life. Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  8. ^ a b c Lowe S., Browne M., Boudjelas S., De Poorter M. (2000) 100 of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species: A selection from the Global Invasive Species Database. Published by The Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) a specialist group of the Species Survival Commission (SSC) of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), 1 pp. First published as special lift-out in Aliens 12, December 2000. Updated and reprinted version: November 2004.
  9. ^ a b c "Strawberry Guava - Psidium cattleianum - Overview - Encyclopedia of Life". Encyclopedia of Life. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Huenneke, L. (1990). Seedling and clonal recruitment of the invasive tree Psidium cattleianum: Implications for management of native Hawaiian forests. Biological Conservation 53(3): 199-211.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g C. Wikler, J. Pedrosa-Macedo, M. Vitorino, M. Caxambú, C. Smith. (1999). Strawberry Guava (Psidium cattleianum) – Prospects for Biological Control. Proceedings of the X International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds 4–14 July 1999. Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana. Edited by Neal R. Spencer pp. 659-665 (2000).
  12. ^ a b c d e f Tunison, J. T., & Stone, C. P. (1992). Special ecological areas: an approach to alien plant control in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Alien plant invasions in native ecosystems of Hawaii. Hawai'i: management and research, 781-798.
  13. ^ K. McCook-Russell, M. Nair, P. Facey, C. Bowen-Forbes. (2012). Nutritional and nutraceutical comparison of Jamaican Psidium cattleianum (strawberry guava) and Psidium guajava (common guava) fruits. Food Chemistry 134(2): 1069-1073.
  14. ^ a b c d e Smith, C. W. 1985. Impact of alien plants on Hawaii's native biota. pp. 180-250. in C. P. Stone and J. M. Scott (eds.). Hawaii's terrestrial ecosystems: preservation and management. Univ. Hawaii Coop. Natl. Park Resour. Studies Unit, University of Hawaii Press. pp. 584.
  15. ^ a b "Strawberry Guava - Psidium cattleianum - Details - Encyclopedia of Life". Encyclopedia of Life. Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  16. ^ a b c d Huenneke, L.F. and P. M. Vitousek. 1989. Seedling and clonal recruitment of the invasive tree Psidium cattleianum: implications for management of native Hawaiian forests. Biological Conservation 53: 199-211.
  17. ^ Sem, G. S. 1984. A population study and distribution of strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum) in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. Master's thesis. Univ. Hawaii, Honolulu. 84 pp.
  18. ^ a b Brown, R. L., C. S. Tang, and R. K. Nishimoto. 1983. Growth inhibition from guava root exudates. HortScience 13(3): 316-318.
  19. ^ "Psidium cattleianum (strawberry guava)". Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  20. ^ Reis, Júlio Gaspar. "Lista de taxa invasores e de risco para Portugal" (PDF). p. 78. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  21. ^ US Forest Service, Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry. "Biological Control of Strawberry Guava in Hawaii". Archived from the original on 3 April 2009. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  22. ^ "Psidium Cattleyanum". Weeds in Australia. Department of the Environment, The Australian Government. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  23. ^ a b PCA/APWG. "PCA Alien Plant Working Group - Strawberry Guava (Psidium cattleianum)". www.nps.gov. Retrieved 2017-05-07.
  24. ^ Wessels, Frank J., James P. Cuda, M. Tracy Johnson and José Henrique Pedrosa-Macedo. 2007. Host specificity of Tectococcus ovatus (Hemiptera: Eriococcidae), a potential biological control agent of the invasive strawberry guava, Psidium cattleyanum (Myrtales: Myrtaceae), in Florida. BioControl. Volume 52, Number 4 / August, 2007.
  25. ^ "Strawberry Guava Biocontrol: Restoring natural balance to Hawaii's forests and watersheds with the help of a bug". Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project. 23 June 2010.
  26. ^ "Strawberry Guava". Eat The Weeds and other things, too. Retrieved 2017-05-07.
  27. ^ Lim T. K. (2012). Edible Medicinal And Non Medicinal Plants: Volume 3, Fruits. Vol. 3 (illustrated ed.). Springer Science & Business Media. p. 677. ISBN 9789400725348.
  28. ^ Smith, Ruth J. (2005). "Botanical Beads of the World". University of California, Santa Barbara. Retrieved 11 August 2023.

The Complete Book of Fruit Growing in Australia, Louis Glowinski, ISBN 0 85091 870 7