SCIENTIFIC NAME: Eugenia luschnathiana
FAMILY: Myrtaceae

Out of all the Eugenias, and Syzgiums I have in my garden, one stands out in the crowd. This is the Pitomba (Eugenia luschnathiana), a fruit tree native to Bahia, Brazil.

Although reputed to be one of the slowest growing fruit trees in the world, it makes up for this in the early fruiting age. My tree fruited 20 months from seed, and although only 2 fruit set, the results are encouraging.

The Pitomba is slow-growing, 6" to 8" per year, and would make the average gardener a little impatient, but my advice is, bear with it. The tree is bushy in habit, and attains a height of 15' to 20' with 2" to 3" long, bright, glossy leaves on the top, and pale, downy, green underneath, lanceolate in shape. Flowers are typically Eugenia e. g. Grumichama, Brazilian Cherry, Water Cherry, Cherry of the Rio Grande etc. The fruit is green in colour when young, ripening to an orange-yellow, in about 6 weeks. The colour change takes 2 days, and in that time the fruit seems to double in size. The ripened fruit is very soft and juicy and contains 2 seeds, round on top and flat on the bottom. The fruit 1" to 1½" looks like an apricot and tastes very much like an apricot.

Pests of the Pitomba are mealy bugs which in turn bring in the sooty mould, and, I would guess, fruit fly, birds, and fruit bats, although as yet I have no evidence of this.

In summary I would encourage other fruit enthusiasts to try the Pitomba, as in my book it is a winner.

Graham Lomax

DATE: September 1990

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