Know your alien invasive plant: Guava

Guava or Psidium guajava (Myrtaceae)

THIS week, Hillcrest Conservancy, takes a look at the Guava, as part of its series of articles on alien invasive plants, to help the community to identify and eradicate them from their gardens.

The Guava’s scientific name is Psidium guajava (Myrtaceae) but is also known as Koejawel in Afrikaans.

Description: It is an evergreen shrub or small tree that grows up to 10m high with hairy branchlets. It has bronze turning light green leaves that are hairy below and have conspicuous veins. The white flowers form groups of three from October to December. Green turning yellow fruits with white, yellow or pink flesh and a musky odour.

Where does this species come from? It is originally from tropical regions of Central and South America.

What is its invasive status in South Africa? This plant falls into Category 3 in KwaZulu-Natal which means that it may not be sold or traded. But can be kept in certain areas.

How does it spread? Indigenous birds and monkeys could neglect the dispersal of indigenous plants as a consequence of their preference for the fruits of this alien species.

Why is it a problem? It competes with and replaces indigenous species. Dense stands along watercourses and on the edges of wetlands are likely to consume large quantities of water. It is a host of fruit flies and invasive plants could act as a source of infestation of the flies to fruit orchards.

Does the plant have any uses? Birds and monkeys eat the fruits and for its hade.

Contact Ian Pattrick on 079 909 5458 or Hillcrest Conservancy chairman, George Victor, on 073 901 3902 or e-mail georgevic@telkomsa.net

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