Jaboticaba is a very popular South American cherry variety which is native to Brazil, Paraguay and Northern Argentina and adapts well to tropical and sub-tropical climates. It is a truly unique plant in that both the flowers and fruit grow directly from the trunk of the tree. The whole fruit is purple (resembling a grape) and very juicy.
Jaboticaba also known as the Brazilian grape tree is one of the rarest and bizarre fruits known to man. The strangest thing about this fruit is that it appears to blossom right out of the bark and trunk of its tree. The tree almost looks like it is covered in purple warts or pimples when it is fully in season. It is a slow growing large shrub or small, bushy tree, but at times can reach a height of 12 – 45 feet in Brazil depending on the species.
This plant is native to South America, notably Paraguay, Argentina but mostly from Brazil. The fruit, a delicious looking purple colour can be plucked and eaten straight from the tree. Jaboticaba fruits’ similarities to grapes are more than just visual. The fruits are covered by a thick, bitter skin that’s peeled before eating the inner portion of the fruit. Inside is a pink or white sweet fleshy fruit. Embedded in the pulpy flesh are several large seeds. Also similar to grapes, Jaboticaba fruit is rich in antioxidants, and can be used to produce wines and liqueurs.
The tree though is very slow growing and can take up to 20-22 years to produce fruit. First, the flowers themselves appear on the tree trunks at most twice a year – naturally. Instead of growing new shoots these plants flower directly from the woody trunk or stem. These flowers eventually turn into green fruits which gradually grow larger and larger, changing color from a vibrant green to a dark purple as they ripen.
Because of its slow-growing nature, Jaboticaba trees are ideal for making into Bonsai as well. These trees will take full sun or some shade and are small enough fit into many parts of a garden landscape as well. They are fairly wind tolerant but do not like salty sea air. Small, young trees do best with some protection.
This fruit has several health benefits as well. The Jaboticaba is known to have positive biological effects which include anti-ageing, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. It has lots of protein, is low in carbs, high in calcium, iron, phosphorus, and very high in Vitamin C and is very low in calories. And the best news, this fruit contains many anticancer compounds.
Commercially the fruits are made into wines, jams, preserves, beautiful jellies and amazing cheesecakes.