Monday, December 2, 2013


The jaboticaba tree is a relatively small tree, growing to a height of 25 feet but spreading up to 50 feet. The unique characteristic about this tree is the fact that the flowers, and thus the fruit, are borne on the trunk and branches. In the Hawaiian Islands, the trees grow well from near sea level up to 4000 feet. Several different cultivars exist. 

Jaboticaba trees are susceptible to a fungal rust disease. The yellow powder on the leaves is the spores of this fungus. Severity of the rust depends upon the amount of rain; drier years may see no rust, but with an abundance of rainfall, the disease will be quite common. A copper fungicide would help to protect the fruit but multiple applications will be needed in rainy weather. Though not mentioned, a larger problem is the birds eating the fruit.

Depending on the abundance of rain, trees can produce up to 6 crops each year.  Jaboticaba is mostly propagated by seeds which run true to type. Air layering, grafting, and cuttings are possible but with limited success. Yields can be well over 1000 pounds per tree.   

And what to do with all that fruit? Jaboticaba jelly is a favorite in the Hawaiian Islands. Jars of  the bright purple fruit appear in local cupboards and are sold at craft fairs. 

Photos by Emily  Needham