The jabuticaba fruit is a delicious and edible fruit that grows on the jabuticabeira, also known as the Brazilian grapetree. The fruit has a purplish-black color with white pulp and can be eaten raw or used for making jellies, jams, juice, or wine. This tree belongs to the Myrtaceae family and is found in Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Goiás, and São Paulo states of Brazil. Other species of the Myrciaria genus, which have similar names, are native to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Peru.
This morning, I found myself in yet another skirmish with the wild grape vines that had taken over my rock wall border. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind grapevines at all, especially when they bear fruits – which these ones did. In fact, I’d even picked some bunches to make some delicious jelly.
However, things took a turn for the worse when these vines started creeping up my rock wall and making their way towards my tree line. I had to put an end to it because if left unchecked, these wild grapes could cause serious harm to my trees. It was a tough call, but I had to choose between the wild grape or my beloved tree line.
While looking for ways to get rid of the grape plague in my garden, I came across a fascinating variety of grape that doesn’t harm other plants. It’s called the Brazilian grape tree or jabuticaba (Myrciaria cauliflora), and what’s peculiar about it is that its fruits and flowers grow on the trunk of the tree instead of its branches. What’s even better is that this grape tree doesn’t have invasive vines that could damage nearby vegetation. Unfortunately, this type of grape only grows in Brazil, so it’s not widely available elsewhere.
The Brazilian grape tree, also known as jabuticaba, is indigenous to the southeastern region of Brazil. Its cultivation dates back to pre-Columbian times and it was named by the tupi people, with “jabuti” meaning tortoise and “caba” meaning place. These trees thrive in areas where tortoises are abundant. When the fruits ripen and fall from the tree, tortoises have a delightful meal in the cool mulch beneath them.
Growing a Brazilian grape tree from seed can be a lengthy process, but once it is fully grown, it has the potential to reach a height of up to 15 meters. This evergreen tree can also sprout leaves and fruit all year round, making it an ideal addition to any garden. In fact, due to its ability to produce crops multiple times a year, it has been known to yield 2-5 harvests annually in regions with warm climates, such as southeastern Brazil. Additionally, its white blossoms that wrap around the trunk give the tree an enchanting look, resembling snow during its bloom.
The Brazilian grape tree was first introduced to California in 1904, but unfortunately, it did not survive. Although there is a smaller variation that grows in southern Florida, it is known to only thrive in tropical climates. Various other types of this tree can be found in Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay. This tree belongs to the Myrtaceae (myrtle) family, making it related to trees like allspice, guavas, and eucalyptus. Due to its unique nature, the Brazilian grape tree is a popular choice for those who practice bonsai and is often grown as a miniature tree in Taiwan and parts of the Caribbean.
This tree is truly one-of-a-kind, but what makes it truly special is its fruit. The trunk and branches are dotted with grape-shaped nodules that measure around 1-2 inches in diameter. Similar to the muscadine grapes found in the southern US, the Brazilian grape also has bigger seeds, typically around 1-4 per fruit. As it ripens, the grape can come in a variety of colors – from bright green to deep purple-black, red-purple, and burgundy-purple. When eaten, it has a tangy and mildly acidic flavor with a hint of spice.