Eugenia dombeyi (PROSEA)
Eugenia dombeyi (Sprengel) Skeels
- Protologue: US Dept. Agr. Bur. Pl. Industr. Bull. 233: 51 (1912).
- Family: Myrtaceae
- Chromosome number: 2n= unknown
- Eugenia brasiliensis Lamk (1789), non Aublet (1775),
- Myrtus dombeyi Sprengel (1825).
- Grumichama, Brazil cherry (En)
- Cerisier du Brésil, jambosier du Brésil (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
The grumichama occurs wild and cultivated in coastal southern Brazil (Parana, Santa Catarina). It is also cultivated in Paraguay and the United States (Florida, Hawaii) and occasionally planted elsewhere in the tropics and subtropics.
The fruit of the grumichama is appreciated more than that of several other, more widely grown Eugenia species. It is eaten fresh when ripe, or made into jams, pies or preserves when half ripe. However, the persistent sepals ("rabbit ears") and the modest flesh to seed ratio limit the appeal of the fruit. Its dark, glossy leaves, reddish young shoots and shapely canopy make the tree an attractive ornamental. An infusion of 10 g of leaves or bark in 300 ml water is used as an aromatic, astringent diuretic and as a treatment for rheumatism in Brazil.
The fruit has a thin and delicate skin, soft and melting pulp and a mild subacid taste. The taste largely resides in the skin. Per 100 g edible portion, the fruit contains: water 85 g, protein 0.6 g, fat 0.3 g, carbohydrates 13.4 g, fibre 0.6 g and ash 0.4 g. The bark and leaves contain 1.5% of an essential oil and have an attractive aromatic smell. Bark, wood and leaves contain large amounts of tannins, reportedly among the highest found in plants (34% in the bark).
- Small, evergreen tree, 7-10(-20) m tall; crown narrow, compact; trunk short with grey bark, branches suberect.
- Leaves opposite, ovate to obovate-elliptic, 10-12 cm × 5-6 cm, leathery, glossy, minutely pitted on both surfaces, margin recurved; petiole 3-4 mm long; leaves persist for 2 years, buds large with velvety scales, young shoots rosy.
- Flowers solitary, axillary, 2.5 cm wide, white, slightly fragrant; pedicel 3 cm; sepals 4, 8 mm long, green; petals 4, 15 mm long, white; stamens about 100, white.
- Fruit a globose to oblate berry, up to 3-5 cm in diameter, with persistent sepals at apex, hanging on long, slender pedicel, bright-red, dark purple to nearly black, or white; skin thin and delicate; pulp red or white, juicy, soft, sweet.
- Seeds one to several, globose to angular, about 1 cm in diameter, hard, light brown to grey-green.
Three varieties have been distinguished, based on little more than fruit colour:
- var. iocarpus Berg (= var. dombeyi): fruits deep violet;
- var. erythrocarpus Berg: fruits red;
- var. leucocarpus Berg: fruits white, tallest trees; less common.
The grumichama requires a humid, tropical to subtropical climate. Mature trees tolerate frost to -3°C for short periods, but young shoots are affected. Deep sandy loams with good fertility, but acid rather than calcareous, are preferred.
The tree is commonly grown from seed, though propagation through cutting, air layering and grafting is easy. Seeds lose their viability in about 6 weeks. Seedlings initially grow slowly unless raised with much care, and take 4-6 years to come into production. On light soils applications of organic matter as manure or mulch are recommended. Light shade and protection from strong winds are preferred. In the subtropics the trees flower synchronously in spring. The fruit ripens within one month and the harvest is over in a matter of days. In the tropics flowering and fruiting extend over several months; in Rio de Janeiro the trees flower from October to February. Little or no pruning is required until the tree ages, as the canopy remains compact. Limb dieback caused by an unknown pathogen has been reported from Florida. The Mediterranean fruit fly can be a serious pest in Hawaii.
No breeding work has been done. So little material has been introduced in other countries that one would have to go to the region of origin for germplasm collection and selection work.
Although the taste of the fruit is favoured, grumichama is essentially a plant for the home garden, where its ornamental value supplements the usefulness of the fruit.
- Berg, O., 1857. Myrtaceae. In: de Martius, C.F.P. (Editor): Flora Brasiliensis 14(1). Leipzig. pp. 347-348.
- Campos Viana, V.R., 1977. Contribuiçao ao estudo das frutas silvestres das matas do Rio de Janeiro [Contribution to the study of wild fruits in the vegetation of Rio de Janeiro]. Leandra 6-7(7): 95-106.
- Maxwell, L.S. & Maxwell, B.M., 1980. Florida fruit. Revised edition. L.S. Maxwell, Tampa, Florida. p. 49.
- Morton, J.F., 1987. Fruits of warm climates. Creative Resource Systems, Winterville, N.C., USA. pp. 390-391.