Permaculture Plant: Feijoa

feijoa
Photo by Beck Lowe

Botanical name: Acca sellowiana (formerly Feijoa sellowiana).

Common names: feijoa, pineapple guava.

Origin: South America; widely cultivated in New Zealand.

Description: an attractive evergreen shrub with edible fruit; the rounded leaves are green on top and cream below; flowers are pink with prominent red stamens; fruit is oval and green.

Permaculture uses:

The utility and adaptability of feijoa make it a useful permaculture plant – a feijoa hedge has become a permaculture clich.!

  • Fruit is eaten fresh, scooped from the inedible skin, or made into jellies, wines, crumbles, smoothies and many other delicacies.
  • The flower petals are fragrant, sweet and edible. They can be removed carefully from the flower without affecting the subsequent fruit, and then used as a garnish, in fruit salad or just as a treat while in the garden.
  • The plants can be hedged to provide a windbreak or privacy screen.

Design considerations:

Feijoa can be grown throughout temperate and subtropical climates. As a frosttolerant evergreen, the feijoa can use winter rainfall for growth. It is tolerant of drought and poor soil, but will grow faster and produce more fruit with additional water and soil improvement. It can be grown in full sun or partial shade.

Feijoa is rarely bothered by pests, although fruit fly can be a problem in some areas. Birds don’t seem to recognise the green fruit as ripe and even free range chickens ignore fallen fruit.

Feijoa can be pruned to a small shrub or dense hedge or left to spread into a small tree. Fruit set tends to be better when more than one individual is grown.

Feijoa is often grown as an ornamental shrub in suburban gardens, and the fruit is not eaten. This provides an incentive to network with the neighbours!

Propagation: Feijoa seeds are small and fiddly to work with but germinate well; cuttings also take easily. There are some cultivars available which can be grafted onto seedlings.

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