GUAVA immature fruitEspecially when kept watered, guava trees, Psidium guajava of the Myrtle Family, might produce guava fruits almost throughout the year. You can see a half-grown one in July at the right.

Before looking closer at the guava fruit itself, notice how the Guava tree's leaves have such close-together, parallel veins whose tips arc and more or less unite just inside the leaf's margin. That helps a lot when identifying this tree, especially in the woods, for Guavas are native to the American tropics, including the Yucatan.

But, it's the five leathery, purplish items forming a kind of star at the fruit's bottom that makes this a guava fruit and nothing else. To grasp what they are you need to remember that a typical flower has its colored corolla and sexual parts arising from a green, cuplike calyx. Most calyxes have five lobes, or sepals. The five leathery, purplish items in the picture, then, are the calyx lobes, or sepals, remaining on the maturing fruit long after the flower's corolla and male sexual parts have shriveled and fallen off. In most flowers the calyx and its lobes also shrivel and fall off, so these "persistent calyx lobes" on guava fruits are peculiar to the guava.

A fellow once gave me a bag of ripe guavas, which I put away. Around midnight I had to get up and take them outside because they created such a strong odor. At first the smell strikes you as delicious and perfumy with only a slightly musky undercurrent, but as time passes the muskiness takes over, grows heavy, smothers with its insistence, and I'll bet there are sexual pheromones involved, too, stirring up subconscious cogitations. There's a saying among Spanish speakers, "Hard to hide as a guava," and that's why.


The guava fruit's many seeds are a little hard (sometimes awfully hard) and they bother some fastidious folks, but to us gulpers they're no problem at all. If you get some hard seeds, just don't bite hard or you might crack a tooth. Sort of smush your guava, skin and all, then swallow.