Family : Myrtaceae
Text © Pietro Puccio
English translation by Mario Beltramini
The species is native to Bolivia, Colombia (Putumayo), Ecuador (Napo), Northern Brazil and Peru (Loreto and Ucayali) where it lives in the humid forests up to about 600 m of altitude.
The genus was dedicated to the memory of the general, diplomat and patron Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736); the specific name is the Latin adjective “stipitatus, a, um” = provided of stipe, with reference to the short peduncle of the inflorescences.
Common names: araza (English); araçá, araçá-boi (Brazil); arazá, arazá-buey (Peru).
The Eugenia stipitata McVaugh (1956) is an evergreen shrub or small tree, 3-12 m tall, very ramified, with reddish bark tending to flake off; the young branches are covered by a brownish down.
The leaves, on short petiole, are simple, opposite, ovate-elliptic with entire margin and pointed apex, 8-16 cm long and 3-8 cm broad, of intense green colour and slightly pubescent above, pale green, pubescent and with rigid, 0,5 mm long, sparse hairs below.
The young leaves are initially of reddish colour.
Axillary flowers solitary or united in racemose inflorescences, on short peduncle, with 0,5-1 cm long dichotomous ramifications, bearing 2-5 couples of bisexual flowers, on a 1-2 cm long pedicel.
Calyx with 4 ovate free sepals, 0,4-0,5 cm long, of yellowish green colour and retroflexed after opening, 4 white obovate petals, 0,8-1 cm long and about 0,5 cm broad, quadrilocular ovary, about 1,1 cm long style and 80-130 stamina about 0,6 cm long. The longistyle shape of the flower, though not completely hindering the self-pollination, favours the crossed fecundation.
The fruit is an almost spherical berry of 5-10 cm of diameter, initially of green colour, then yellow when ripe, with epicarp (the “skin”) thin and pubescent and juicy and aromatic pulp, also that surrounding the seeds, of pale yellow colour. The seeds, in number of 5-15, have a slightly compressed oblong shape, 0,5-2 cm long and 0,5-1,5 cm broad.
It reproduces by seed, that must be planted shortly after the extraction from the pulp having a limited germinability duration, in draining loam, acidic, maintained humid at a temperature of 24-28 °C. Germination times from 2 to 8 months, that may reduced by means of scarification, and first fructification, in the best cultivation conditions, after about 2 years. In order to maintain particular characteristics recourse to grafting is done.
Fruit that has aroused great interest due to its organoleptic characteristics suitable for the industrial production of juices, concentrates, jams, ice creams and for aromatizing various drinks, whilst is not good for the consumption as fresh due to the high acidity of the pulp. It has a high contents of vitamins A, B1 and C, of proteins and carbohydrates, furthermore contains calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Cultivable in the humid tropical regions with high average temperature, annual rainfall well distributed and humidity over the 80%, on soils even very poor. Regions often economically depressed that might have an economic return with its cultivation and relevant industrial processing, that should be done preferably in the production site due to the fast perishability of the ripe fruit and susceptibility to mechanical damages during the transportation. The fructification almost continuous during the year is a further incentive to increment its cultivation.
It requires an exposition preferably in full sun, except during the initial phase of growth, and acidic soils, draining, even poor, but grows at the best in the fertile ones maintained humid, therefore needs regular irrigations in areas with dry periods; eventual fertilizations are to be done with products having a low contents of phosphorus, being this poorly absorbed by the plant (in nature it grows in soils poor of this element). The lowest temperatures must maintain over the 18 °C, with lower values the growth stops. Outside the tropical and subtropical zones, due to its compact posture and the early blooming, it could be cultivated in capacious containers in order to be sheltered in luminous greenhouses during the coldest months, utilizing a draining loam, fertile and acidic, maintained almost constantly humid, but without stagnations. Finally, are not to be underestimated its ornamental characteristics.
The photographic file of Giuseppe Mazza