Article from The
Master Gardening Bench, Manatee County Master Gardener Newsletter
by John Dawson, Master Gardener
The jaboticaba (Plinia
a native of Brazil, is a very slow growing evergreen large shrub or
small, bushy tree. It normally reaches a height of 10 to 15 feet in
Florida and makes an attractive landscape plant. The tree branches
close to the ground, slanting upward and outward so that the dense,
rounded crown may attain a spread as wide as it is tall. The small
yellow-white flowers emerge from the multiple trunks, limbs and large
branches in groups of four. The flowers look as if someone glued cotton
balls to the trunks of the tree.
The dark purple jaboticaba
fruit is large, grape-like in appearance and texture but with a
thicker, tougher skin. The fruit tastes much like a mix of Muscadine
grapes and cherries. Because the picked fruit begins to ferment three
to four days after harvest, they are rarely seen in markets. The fruit
may be produced singly or in clusters from the ground up all over the
trunk and main branches, and the plant may fruit up to five times per
year. The fresh fruit can be eaten out-of-hand or can be made into
jellies, jams and wine.
Jaboticaba trees will take full sun or
some shade and are small enough to fit into many parts of your
landscape. They are fairly wind tolerant but do not like salty sea air.
Small, young trees do best with some protection. Jaboticabas grow and
fruit best in rich deep soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. Although
jaboticaba is not well adapted to alkaline soils, it may be grown
successfully by mulching and applying necessary nutrient sprays
containing iron. For young plants, half ratio fertilizer at monthly
intervals will speed the plant's very slow growth rate. Any
well-balanced fertilizer applied three times per year will keep the
The tree is not tolerant of salty or poorly
drained soil, but does well in our sandy soil. Water should be supplied
as needed to maintain good soil moisture and prevent wilting, but over
watering is undesirable. As the root system is shallow, irrigation is
usually required when the upper inch or two of soil becomes dry.
of jaboticabas is not usually needed, except to maintain size and
shape. The thin, beige to reddish bark tends to flake off and is not a
sign of disease. Although jaboticabas can tolerate a few degrees of
frost, they do best under frost-free conditions.
If you wish to
grow your own tree from seed, it may take from eight to fifteen years
for a seedling to mature into a fruiting tree, whereas a grafted plant
may produce fruit within three years. Most seeds are polyembryonic,
producing a plant that is true or close to the parent plant. Planted
seeds should germinate in about one month.
Please come visit the Master Gardener Educational Gardens at the
Manatee County Agriculture and Extension office and see our jaboticaba
in our backyard tree exhibit.