From the Archives
of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia, inc.
by Christine Gray
A Sweet Delight, the Jaboticaba
Black, shiny grape-like fruit clinging to the trunk, limbs, small
branches of a tree, can be hard to believe to anyone who is newly
interested in rare fruits.
But it is for real. It is a wonder why more people are not growing the Jaboticaba.
have found the Jaboticabas, a fruit from the jungles of Brazil, a tree
one tends to plant and forget, as at first for at least 3 years, it is
slow-growing (but is recorded to grow to 40 feet).
We have planted two types of Jaboticabas, a small-fruiting, small-leaf variety and the giant-fruiting larger-leaf variety.
was December 1978 when we planted our first seedling small-fruiting
type Jaboticabas. Later in May 1980 we added four more seedlings of
this variety and in January 1979 we planted two giant-fruiting type
Jaboticabas. One was planted down on the creek flat and the other near
the vegetable garden beside the house.
It took four years before our first Jaboticaba fruited. The giant type took seven years.
small-leaf Jaboticabas are hardy trees. We have planted one down at
'Treat Park'. It has no water except from the rain and the tree is
slow, but growing well. The Jaboticaba is true from seed and does not
need to be grafted: it is a heavy cropper, bearing at least two crops
from September to December.
The giant-fruiting Jaboticaba has a
larger leaf than the small-fruit Jaboticaba - at least twice as big.
The small-fruit type has a leaf averaging about 3°cm x 1cm and the
giant-fruiting type leaf averaging around 6cm long x 3cm wide.
flowers of the Jaboticabas form as little bumps on trunk and branches
and a fluffy, creamy blossom about 1 cm across emerges. As the tree
grows, the smooth bark seems to flake off, much like a crab dropping
I was walking past the Jaboticabas about 6 p.m.
(normal time) one September evening and realised this beautiful, sweet
perfume was coming from the Jaboticaba flowers. The perfume is
The fruit take up to six weeks to form from bud to
green fruit, turning maroon, then black, to shiny black. I have seen
bees pollinate the flowers but other insects may help also.
months ago Don gave the Jaboticabas an application of zinc. Light
applications of chicken manure and watering only when the fruit are
forming is normal yearly procedure, but since the applications of zinc,
the small-fruiting type have had abundant fruit, the fruit so tight one
beside the other that a pin would not fit, while the giant fruiting
type have gone into heavy green foliage and have had only a very sparse
crop of only 30 fruit. The giant type growing near the vegetable garden
could be feeding on the mulch and could account for this - but the
other on the creek bank only had two fruit. Because of all the new
growth, it may have stopped the tree from fruiting.
giant-fruiting type is normally a lighter cropper anyway, but the fruit
is about ping pong ball size, much the same flavour as the smaller
type, but a delight to eat.
I love to cut them in half and suck
the white juicy sweet flesh away from the thick skin. The flesh tends
to stick to the seed and if one is patient, one can eventually clean
the seed smooth with tongue and teeth.
Don loves popping them
into his mouth, giving the fruit a munch and swallowing the seed, flesh
and juice and then removing the skin.
I think the Jaboticabas
are going to be a winner. We have been selling a few. We find the less
they are handled, the longer they keep.
One way of not handling
the fruit too much is to hose the fruit while on the tree. Remains of
old flower petals and leaves stick to the fruit, and hosing them down
before picking removes all the debris.
The Jaboticabas must be
picked when the fruit is really round and shiny black (the birds will
not eat them until this stage). Picking takes nimble fingers, but by
taking time to select only the shiny black fruit pays off, as one may
get another 3 to 4 subsequent pickings. Don prunes branches out to make
it easier to pick the fruit.
Just a suggestion for packing: the
Jaboticabas could be packed straight into punnets like strawberries to
further reduce handling.
One other thing before I end - the
Jaboticabas do not get stung by fruit fly or fruit sucking moth because
of the thick skin. But the birds do love the ripe shiny fruit. Netting
could reduce damage by birds or you could be like Don and get up early
and beat the birds!
Well, if you haven't got a Jaboticaba tree - get one - it is a sweet delight.