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Guava vs. Guayaba

Guava and guayaba refer to the same fruit, while guanabana refers to a different, larger tropical fruit. All taste delicious and provide a sweet treat eaten raw or used in recipes. You can plant a grove of guava and obtain fruit in two to three years.

A bowl with fresh slices of goiaba on a wooden table.

Shopping at the grocery store, you spot guava nectar and try it. Dang, that tastes good, but you shop for actual guava fruit and run into a problem. There seemingly aren’t any. You find guayaba and it looks oddly just like the photos of pink guava you have seen. The secret to their twindom is that they are the same thing.

Guava is the English word and guayaba is the Spanish word for the same fruit.

A  view of a guava’s exterior and interior.

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What is guava/guayaba?

Let’s simplify things by referring to this from here on out as guava. This delicious little fruit provides nutrition, taste, and a terrific ingredient for cooking and baking. Guava, or Psidium guajava as it is scientifically known, grows naturally in South America. A small evergreen tree, it most often grows in the central and southern areas of South America.

It produces edible fruits and leaves, the latter of which also gets used in medicine. More than 90 species of guava exist.

A Brief History of Guava

This is a close look at pieces of fresh sliced guava with its leaves.

The Arawak Indians, native to the Great Antilles and South America, first used guava. They named it and developed its initial uses. As a food, guava is eaten raw, plus used in recipes for jams, jellies, juices, smoothies, and other beverages.

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Besides its edible parts, it provides other benefits, including key economic benefits. This quick-growing tree helps beautify landscapes quickly and helps control erosion and desertification when used as shelterbelt planting. In developed and developing countries, the tree provides an immediate source of energy when planted, as well as fruiting relatively quickly.

Of course, like other items, this fruit finds its name translated into various languages. It appears in recipes from a multitude of ethnicities now, so if you see the word jwafa in an Arabic recipe, guaba in a Japanese one, marathi in a Peruvian recipe, bayabas in a Tagalog recipe, or amrood in a Punjabi recipe, that recipe uses guava! The mighty guava plant also gets used in many natural medicines and pharmaceutical drugs.

These drugs include those used in the treatment of diabetes, body inflammation, infection, obesity, and heart disease.

Where to Buy Guava

Fresh and ripe guyaba with slices of it on a concrete surface.

Unless you reside in a metropolitan area, you probably won’t find guava or guanabana in your local grocery. Large chains in smaller areas do not carry it. You also might not find it at discount groceries such as Aldi and Buy for Less or Shop for Less.

In metroplexes, Albertson’s, Safeway, also called Homeland, or other chains such as Kroger probably carry these fruits seasonally. In a larger city, you can purchase these fruits regularly at ethnic grocery stores. You do not even have to live in an area with a large Hispanic population since the fruit became so popular in Asian culture.

Shopping at your local Chinese grocery store will net you a lot of guava and guanabana. Having fruit shipped might work in some locations, but in the US, you will run into restrictions. Some fruits cannot get shipped to or from certain states.

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You can always purchase the dried fruit, then rehydrate it to use. You can also purchase canned guava, guava paste, and guava leaf extract for baking and cooking.

Frequently Asked Questions

The interior and exterior of a guanabana (soursop).

Is a guanabana just a variant of guava/guayaba?

Heck, no! A guanabana refers to the soursop fruit as it gets called in the English language. That is a totally different delicious food. Its exterior resembles a cactus but is shaped like a pineapple, while its interior takes on the appearance of the color of coconut. The insides resemble pineapple fruit, too, except that they appear stark white.

It tastes a bit like cantaloupe but can be a bit slimy. It goes great in milk though, and you can find soursop ice cream. The drink mix manufacturer, Tang, offers a soursop (guanabana) flavor.

Can you grow these plants in the US?

Perhaps you went on vacation to Mexico and tasted freshly picked guava. You thought, hey, I should grow this at home. You can easily grow these outdoors in California, Hawaii, Texas, Florida, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, or indoors in a hothouse or greenhouse anywhere in the US. As long as you live in USDA zones 8 to 11, you can grow these fruits outside.

Guava plants detest cold but love sunshine. You should plant them in full sun unless you reside in an area prone to high heat. Then you plant guava in partial shade.

What soil do guava and soursop need?

These tropical fruits enjoy rich soil. They do best in the soil with a pH ranging between 4.5 and 7.0. You can improve soil with well-rotted organic matter like a mix of bone meal, potting soil, and worms. It should drain well because too much water in the soil makes guava wilt and die.

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Should you plant guava from seedlings or seeds?

Purchase seeds from an arborist because trying to use what you glean from a fruit produces low germination. You can also grow it from cuttings. If you choose seeds, soak them in freshwater for 10 to 15 days.

Plant them in a small pot after their soak. Germination takes time. Patiently wait between three to 10 weeks for germination. You should maintain it at a temperature of about 77°F.

When the seedling reaches 12 inches in height, transplant it outside. Let it harden off for one week before you transplant it into the ground. Guava requires three years to fruit when grown from seed. When you grow from a cutting, it only takes two years to flower and fruit.

Is there a speedy way to get guava growing?

You sort of cheat by purchasing grafted trees from an arborist. You can get something with a vigorous rootstock that fruits well. You use a large pot for the first few years of growth, so this lets you grow one anywhere.

However, you plant your guava, place at least 15 to 25 feet between trees. Guavas like having their own space. They grow tall and wide-reaching, so give them room to grow and provide you with delicious fruit and leaves.

How often should you water guava?

Just after planting, you should water the guava trees every other day. After the first week, switch to watering once per week. You should deeply water but let the soil dry before you water again.

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What guava products can you typically find?

Goya makes a delectable guava juice although they sweeten their juice. The same brand makes frozen guava pulp you can use this tropical fruit in recipes. You can also find Hawaiian Sun guava jam, also branded as guayaba jam, and Soeos chocolate-covered guava candy as well as hard candies.

You can also purchase guava pastries online and in stores in larger cities. The common brands available in the US include Sergio’s and Fiora. These puff pastries taste good alone or with cream cheese.

Is guayabo just the masculine form of the Spanish word for guava?

Nope. In Costa Rica, Guayabo, with an “o” on the end, refers to a place. In Cartago province, outside the city of Turrialba, you can visit the Guayabo National Monument and Park. There you can explore pre-Columbian ruins, a volcano, and a jungle.

You could feasibly sit on the edge of the Turrialba Volcano in Guayabo eating guayaba. That’s sure to make for a terrific Instagram selfie. Look out if you use the word guayabo in conversation in Mexico, though, or in Spanish-speaking US households. Outside of Costa Rica, it is slang for “hangover.”

What are some other trees you might see growing in areas where guava trees are popular?

Besides the guava/guayaba tree, you might also see the manzanzo tree and the almendro tree. That may sound fancy, but that just means that farmers there like growing apple trees and almond trees. Yum.