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common guava, guava, guayaba, yellow guava

myrtle family

Habit Shrubs or trees to 8 m; trunk light brown, reddish brown, or light grayish green, mostly smooth, with large, flaky scales; young twigs green, quadrangular, slightly to strongly winged, often sulcate, at least when dry, older twigs reddish brown to grayish green, smooth or scaly; young growth glabrate to densely appressed-pubescent, hairs whitish, yellowish, or silvery, to ca. 0.7 mm. Trees, shrubs, or subshrubs, usually synoecious, terrestrial, unarmed, occasionally clonal by root sprouts; young growth usually glandular, usually aromatic when crushed; trunk often with smooth or scaly bark; hairs unicellular, simple or dibrachiate.

petiole channeled, 2–5 × 1–2 mm, densely pubescent to glabrate;

blade drying yellowish green, grayish green, or reddish brown, elliptic, oblong, elliptic-oblanceolate, elliptic-obovate, or lanceolate, 4.5–14 × 2.4–7.5 cm, 1.6–3.8 times as long as wide, leathery to submembranous, midvein prominent abaxially, impressed adaxially, lateral veins 9–22 pairs, prominent, ascending (at ca. 45°), nearly straight, curving upward near margin and connecting with next lateral vein, smaller veins connecting laterals in ladderlike to reticulate pattern, base rounded to slightly cordate, apex acute, acuminate, or rounded, surfaces densely to sparsely appressed-pubescent abaxially, glabrate adaxially (except midvein puberulent).

usually persistent, opposite, alternate, or whorled, sometimes decussate, simple;

without true stipules; usually petiolate;

blade leathery, papery, or submembranous, margins entire, sometimes somewhat sinuate.


1- or 3-flowered, borne in leaf axils;

bracteoles linearto narrowly triangular, 2–5 mm, sparsely pubescent.

usually axillary, sometimes terminal or pseudoterminal, solitary flowers, dichasia, racemes, panicles, or spikes;

bracts often present;

bracteoles usually present.


1–3.5 cm × 1–1.5 mm, terete.


bud subfusiform to pyriform, 10–17 mm, sometimes strongly constricted near midpoint, apex usually conic;

hypanthium to summit of ovary obconic, ca. 1/2 as long as closed flower bud;

calyx closed, conicin bud, tearing irregularly as bud opens, persisting or falling in ca. 3 parts;

petals obovate to elliptic, 13–22 mm;

disc 4–6 mm across;

stamens 280–720,7–15 mm;

anthers 0.7–1 mm;

style 10–15 mm;

stigma ca. 0.5 mm wide;

ovary 3–6-locular;

ovules 90–180 per locule (multiseriate).

usually bisexual, rarely unisexual, (0–)4 or 5(–7)-merous, actinomorphic; usually epigynous, rarely semiepigynous;

hypanthium obconic, cylindric, or cup-shaped, sometimes prolonged beyond summit of ovary;

calyx lobes distinct and, usually, imbricate, or fused in calyptra that falls as a unit or tears open;

petals distinct and imbricate, or fused with calyx, rarely coherent, usually equaling calyx lobes (when lobes distinct);

nectary glands, when present, produced on disc surrounding style;

stamens 10–720;

anthers basifixed or dorsifixed, usually dehiscing by slits;

pistil 1;

ovary inferior (partially so in Melaleuca), 1–6[–18]-locular and carpellate;

placentation axile, subapical, or basal;

style 1;

stigma 1;

ovules 2–300(–500), usually biseriate or multiseriate, bitegmic.


berries, capsules with apical dehiscence, or nutlike.


aromatic, green or yellow, with pink or white flesh inside, globose or pyriform, 20–60(–80) mm.


usually 50+, subreniform,3–4 mm, ± smooth.


seed coat membranous, ± leathery, or hard and bony;

embryo starchy or oily;

endosperm scant or absent.

Psidium guajava


Phenology Flowering spring.
Habitat Roadsides, pastures, riparian areas.
Elevation 0–100 m. (0–300 ft.)
from FNA
FL; LA; South America [Introduced in North America; introduced also in tropics and subtropics worldwide]
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]
sw United States; se United States; Mexico; Central America; South America; s United States; West Indies; s Asia; se Asia; Africa; Pacific Islands (Hawaii, New Guinea, Philippines); Australia; nearly worldwide in tropical; subtropical; and Mediterranean regions
[BONAP county map]

Psidium guajava is known in the flora area from the central and southern peninsula in Florida and Jefferson Parish in Louisiana.

Psidium guajava is commonly and widely cultivated for its edible fruit. It probably was originally cultivated in tropical South America. Archaeological evidence of guava cultivation has been reported for coastal Peru at about 4000 years ago (R. Shady-Solis et al. 2001) and even earlier in Rondônia, Brazil (J. Watling et al. 2018). In Central America and Mexico, the earliest archaeological find of P. guajava is about 2000 years old in the Tehuacán Valley of Mexico (C. E. Smith 1965). It reached the Caribbean Islands in pre-Columbian times (G. Fernández de Oviedo y Valdéz 1851). How much of the American distribution, which now extends from Mexico to Argentina, is due to the actions of humans is uncertain. In post-Columbian times it was rapidly spread to the tropical and subtropical regions around the world. Guava products are imported into the United States mainly from Brazil, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Mexico, Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand. The leaves and bark are commonly used medicinally as a tea to remedy diarrhea.

Psidium guineense Swartz, common in tropical and subtropical America, is a similar weedy species that is often confused with P. guajava. One specimen collected at Bradenton, Florida, in 1916 has been seen; it may be expected in the southeastern United States. Psidium guineense differs from P. guajava in having leaves with fewer lateral veins, usually erect, reddish brown (not appressed and whitish) hairs on the abaxial surfaces, anthers 1–3 mm, and a calyx that tears in usually five (not three) segments.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Genera ca. 130, species ca. 6000 (13 genera, 38 species in the flora).

Myrtaceae are apparently of Gondwanan origin with centers of diversity in tropical America and Australasia and with fewer species in Africa and southern Asia. Syzygium aromaticum (Linnaeus) Merrill & L. M. Perry (clove) and Pimenta dioica (Linnaeus) Merrill (allspice) are economically important spices; Psidium guajava (guava) is a common tropical fruit; species of Eucalyptus are widely planted for fast growing timber and as ornamentals. Melaleuca (including Callistemon) and other genera are planted as ornamentals with M. quinquenervia having become an invasive pest in Florida.

Native and introduced genera of Myrtaceae in North America can be divided conveniently into two groups: those with dry fruit (Chamelaucium, Eucalyptus, Leptospermum, and Melaleuca) and those with fleshy fruit (Calyptranthes, Eugenia, Luma, Mosiera, Myrcianthes, Myrtus, Psidium, Rhodomyrtus, and Syzygium). This division based on fruit type has historically been the basis for recognizing subfamilies or tribes; molecular work shows that neither group is monophyletic. For the purposes of this treatment, the division based on fruit type will be retained, but without formal taxonomic standing. Among the fleshy-fruited genera, embryo structure has been taxonomically important. In the bony-seeded genera (Mosiera, Myrtus, Psidium, and Rhodomyrtus), the embryos are small and difficult to see. The C-shaped embryos in that group have small, leaflike or linear cotyledons equal to or shorter than the cylindrical hypocotyls. In other fleshy-fruited genera, it is usually possible to open the seed coat and see the embryo. In Eugenia, the embryo is mainly cotyledon tissue fused into a reniform to globose mass. In Myrcianthes and Syzygium, the cotyledons are similar to those of a bean and unfused and the hypocotyl is insignificant. In Calyptranthes, the cotyledons are leaflike and folded into a bundle and the equally long hypocotyl curls around the bundle. In Luma, the cotyledons are lenticular and pressed against each other and the hypocotyl about equals them in length.

Recently, Pimenta dioica has been shown to be naturalized near Miami, Florida. It is most similar to Syzygium cumini (both have berry fruits and many-flowered panicle inflorescences). The two species are compared under 2. S. cumini.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

1. Fruits capsules or nutlike; leaves on mature stems mostly alternate (opposite in Chamelaucium and Melaleuca linariifolia); seeds usually 1–3 mm.
→ 2
2. Trees (sometimes large shrubs in E. conferruminata); perianth parts fused in calyptrae.
2. Shrubs or trees; perianth parts distinct.
→ 3
3. Inflorescences dense cylindrical clusters of flowers surrounding stems apically or subapically, as a bottlebrush; stamens several times longer than perianth.
3. Inflorescences clustered or flowers solitary, not forming bottlebrush; stamens about as long as perianth.
→ 4
4. Leaves opposite (decussate); style with a ring of hairs just below stigma; ovaries 1-locular; fruits nutlike.
4. Leaves alternate; style without a ring of hairs just below stigma; ovaries 6–12-locular; fruits capsules.
1. Fruits berries; leaves on mature stems mostly opposite, rarely subopposite or whorled; seeds often 3+ mm.
→ 5
5. Calyces closed in bud or with porelike opening at apex (appearing closed in Syzygium cumini), persisting after anthesis as irregular parts or falling completely.
→ 6
6. Inflorescences 1-flowered, or 3-flowered dichasia; seed coats bony.
Psidium (in part)
6. Inflorescences 3–100-flowered, mostly panicles; seed coats membranous or papery.
→ 7
7. Petioles 2–8 mm; fruits spheroid to oblate (shorter than to as long as wide); calyptrae formed by connate calyx lobes; cotyledons thin, foliaceous (folded).
7. Petioles 10–20 mm; fruits ellipsoid or subglobose (longer than wide); calyptrae formed by coherent petals; cotyledons thick, plano-convex.
Syzygium (in part)
5. Calyces open in bud, lobes clearly distinguishable, persisting after anthesis as 4 or 5 distinct lobes.
→ 8
8. Flowers 5-merous (sometimes 7-merous in Rhodomyrtus).
→ 9
9. Petals pink or red; leaves with brochidodromous to acrodromous venation.
9. Petals whitish; leaves usually with brochidodromous venation, less often partially eucamptodromous.
→ 10
10. Flower buds with calyx open before anthesis; calyx scarcely tearing, if at all, at anthesis; seed coats shiny, not notably dense, few cells thick, easily broken.
10. Flower buds with calyx closed completely or open only by apical pore before anthesis; calyx tearing irregularly at anthesis; seed coats dull, dense, many cells thick, broken only with difficulty.
Psidium (in part)
8. Flowers [3 or]4-merous (except sometimes 5-merous in Myrcianthes and Syzygium).
→ 11
11. Inflorescences panicles.
Syzygium (in part)
11. Inflorescences solitary flowers, racemes, dichasia, fascicles, or umbel-like clusters.
→ 12
12. Seeds 1–27, 3–6 mm; embryos.
→ 13
13. Seed coats membranous; embryos lenticular; cotyledons about as long as hypocotyl; leaf blades apiculate to abruptly acuminate; California.
13. Seed coats bony; embryos Florida.
12. Seeds usually 1(–4), usually 10–15 mm; embryos each a solid, globose or reniform mass, or with 2 distinct, plano-convex cotyledons (beanlike).
→ 14
14. Cotyledons connate, fused in a mass.
14. Cotyledons distinct, each thick, plano-convex, beanlike.
→ 15
15. Inflorescences solitary flowers or dichasia; berries 6–15 mm; hypanthia not prolonged beyond summit of ovary, base not attenuate.
15. Inflorescences racemes; berries 14–40 mm; hypanthia prolonged beyond summit of ovary, base often attenuate.
Syzygium (in part)
Source FNA vol. 10. FNA vol. 10. Author: Leslie R. Landrum.
Parent taxa Myrtaceae > Psidium
Sibling taxa
P. cattleyanum
Subordinate taxa
Calyptranthes, Chamelaucium, Eucalyptus, Eugenia, Leptospermum, Luma, Melaleuca, Mosiera, Myrcianthes, Myrtus, Psidium, Rhodomyrtus, Syzygium
Name authority Linnaeus: Sp. Pl. 1: 470. (1753) Jussieu
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