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Jaboticaba

Jaboticaba (myrciaria cauliflora)—Although native to Brazil, these fruit trees are found in many backyards in Hawai‘i. The tree is a slow-growing evergreen. It has salmon-colored leaves when young, which turn green as they mature. The tree prefers moist, rich, lightly acidic soil. Its flowers are white and grow directly from its trunk. Jaboticaba may flower and fruit only once or twice a year, but when continuously irrigated it flowers frequently, providing fresh fruit year round in tropical regions.

The fruit is a thick-skinned berry and typically measures three to four centimeters in diameter. Resembling a slip-skin grape, it has sweet, white or rosy pink gelatinous flesh encased in a thick, purple, astringent skin. Embedded within the flesh are one to four large seeds.

Jaboticaba fruit is largely eaten fresh; its popularity has been likened to that of grapes in the United States. The fruit begins to ferment three to four days after harvest, so it is often used to make jams, tarts, strong wines and liqueurs. Due to its extremely short shelf life, fresh Jaboticaba fruit is very rare in markets.