AskDefine | Define guava

Dictionary Definition



1 small tropical shrubby tree bearing small yellowish fruit [syn: strawberry guava, yellow cattley guava, Psidium littorale]
2 small tropical American shrubby tree; widely cultivated in warm regions for its sweet globular yellow fruit [syn: true guava, guava bush, Psidium guajava]
3 tropical fruit having yellow skin and pink pulp; eaten fresh or used for e.g. jellies

User Contributed Dictionary



(US) IPA: /ˈgwɑvə/


  1. A yellowish tropical fruit (psidium guajava) often made into jams and jellies. The guava fruit is 1¼ to 2 inches, globular or pear-shaped with thin, yellow, green, or brown skin; the meat is yellowish or pale green to pink in color.
  2. A tropical tree which produces such fruit.


Extensive Definition

Guava (from Arawak via Spanish guayaba), is a genus of about 100 species of tropical shrubs and small trees in the myrtle family Myrtaceae, native to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and northern South America, but now cultivated throughout the tropics. In Hindi as well as Urdu they are called amrood . In Sri Lanka they are called Pera. The Bengali name peyara (পেয়ারা) and the Tagalog name bayabas are probably local renditions of guayaba. Numerous references in medical research identify guava as Psidium guajava.
They are typical Myrtoideae, with tough dark leaves that are opposite, simple, elliptic to ovate and 5-15 cm long. The flowers are white, with five petals and numerous stamens.
In several tropical regions, including Hawaiʻi, some species (namely Cattley Guava, P. littorale) have become invasive weed shrubs. On the other hand, several species have become very rare and at least one (Jamaican Guava, P. dumetorum), is already extinct.
The genera Accara and Feijoa (= Acca, Pineapple Guava) were formerly included herein too.


Guavas are cultivated in many tropical and subtropical countries for their edible fruit. Several species are grown commercially; Apple Guava (P. guajava) and its cultivars are those most commonly traded internationally.
Mature trees of most species are fairly cold-hardy and can survive as low as 5°C for short periods of time, but younger plants will not survive. They are known to survive in Northern Pakistan where they can get down to 5°C or lower during the night. Guavas are also of interest to home growers in temperate areas, being one of the very few tropical fruits that can be grown to fruiting size in pots indoors.

Culinary uses

The guava fruit is edible, round to pear-shaped, from 3-10 cm in diameter (up to 12 cm in some selected cultivars). It has a thin delicate rind, pale green to yellow at maturity in some species, pink to red in others, a creamy white or orange-salmon flesh with many small hard seeds, and a strong, characteristic aroma that is hard to describe but generally reminiscent of refreshing fruit like apples, passionfruit or strawberries, with an inoffensive acidity and a fragrance reminiscent of rose petals.
The whole fruit is edible, from seeds to rind, but many people choose to cut out the middle which contains hard seeds embedded in the surrounding pulp. The pulp is sweetest and most delicious in the center, with the outer layer being sour and gritty like young pears, while the peel (fruit) is sour in taste but richest in phytochemicals; it is usually discarded but can be eaten as an enriched source of essential nutrients and polyphenols.
The fruit is also often prepared as a dessert. In Asia, fresh raw guava is often dipped in preserved prune powder or salt. Boiled guava is also extensively used to make candies, preserves, jellies, jams, marmalades (goiabada), and juices. In Asia, a tea is made from guava fruits and leaves. In Egypt, South Africa, and Central America, guava juice is popular. Red guavas can be used as the base of salted products such as sauces, constituting a substitute for tomatoes, especially for those sensitive to the latter's acidity.
Guava wood is used for meat smoking in Hawaii and competition barbecue.
Psidium species are used as food plants by the caterpillars of some Lepidoptera, mainly moths like the Ello Sphinx (Erinnyis ello), Eupseudosoma aberrans, Snowy Eupseudosoma (E. involutum)and Hypercompe icasia. Mites like Pronematus pruni and Tydeus munsteri are known to parasitize Apple Guava (P. guabaya) and perhaps other species. The bacterium Erwinia psidii causes rot diseases of the Apple Guava.
The fruit are also relished by many mammals and birds. The spread of introduced guavas owes much to this fact, as animals will eat the fruit and disperse the seeds in their droppings.

Nutrients and dietary antioxidant value

Guavas are often considered superfruits, being rich in vitamins A and C, omega-3 and -6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and especially high levels of dietary fiber. Containing about half the amount (37 mg per 100 g) of vitamin C as a raw orange, a single strawberry guava also has good levels of the dietary minerals, potassium and magnesium, and otherwise a broad, low-calorie profile of essential nutrients. Common guava has generally a more diverse and dense nutrient content, including extraordinary richness of vitamin C (228 mg per 100 g).
Guavas contain both major classes of antioxidant pigments -- carotenoids and polyphenols, giving them relatively high dietary antioxidant value among plant foods.

Medical research

Since the 1950s, guava, particularly its leaves, has been a subject for diverse research in chemical identity of its constituents, pharmacological properties and history in folk medicine. For example, from preliminary medical research in laboratory models, extracts from guava leaves or bark are implicated in therapeutic mechanisms against cancer, bacterial infections, inflammation and pain. Essential oils from guava leaves have shown strong anti-cancer activity in vitro.

Folk medicine applications

Guava leaves are used as a remedy for diarrhea, and for their supposed antimicrobial properties. The same anti-diarrheal substances useful in folk medicine may also cause constipation when large amounts of guava fruits are consumed. Guava leaves or bark have been used traditionally to treat diabetes.

Selected species

See also



  • (2004): Healthcare Use for Diarrhoea and Dysentery in Actual and Hypothetical Cases, Nha Trang, Viet Nam. Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition 22(2): 139-149. [ PDF fulltext]
guava in Arabic: جوافة
guava in Danish: Guava
guava in German: Guaven
guava in Spanish: Guayaba
guava in French: Goyavier
guava in Hebrew: גויאבה
guava in Indonesian: Jambu batu
guava in Italian: Psidium guajava
guava in Malay (macrolanguage): Jambu Batu
guava in Dutch: Guave
guava in Japanese: グアバ
guava in Marathi: पेरू
guava in Norwegian: Guava
guava in Polish: Guawa
guava in Portuguese: Psidium
guava in Quechua: Sawintu
guava in Russian: Гуава
guava in Thai: ฝรั่ง (ผลไม้)
guava in Tonga (Tonga Islands): kuava
guava in Min Nan: Pa̍t-á
guava in Chinese: 番石榴
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