guava (gwäˈvə) [key], small evergreen tree or shrub of the genus Psidium of the family Myrtaceae (myrtle family), native to tropical America and grown elsewhere for its ornamental flowers and edible fruit. The fruit (a fleshy berry with many hard seeds) of the common tropical guava ( P. guajava ) is shaped like an apple or a pear and has white, pink, or red flesh (depending on the variety) with a sweet, musky flavor and, usually, a yellow rind. The strawberry guava ( P. cattleyanum ), native to Brazil, bears a red fruit with a rough rind and reddish pulp, supposedly strawberrylike in flavor. At the time of the Spanish explorations the guava was found from Peru to Mexico; in the United States it is now grown commercially in Florida and California, where it has also escaped cultivation and become naturalized. Much of the perishable fruit is made into jellies, beverages, and similar products. It is a rich source of minerals and of vitamins A and C. Guava is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Myrtales, family Myrtaceae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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