Foods Indigenous to the Western Hemisphere


Feijoa sellowiana or Acca sellowiana
Also known as pineapple guava, strawberry guava, acca, Brazilian guava, fig guava, guavasteen, New Zealand banana

By Scott Sheu

The feijoa is a fruit tree that also serves as an attractive garden shrub. The feijoa was named after Joao de Silva Feijo, a Brazilian soldier and botanist. Though traditionally its Latin name has Feijoa sellowiana, recently it was changed to Acca sellowiana.

Origin and Distribution

The feijoa is believed to have originated in the highlands around Uruguay, southern Brazil, northern Argentina and western Paraguay. It was brought and grown in Europe in the 19th century and has since spread to places as diverse as India, the Caribbean, and Scotland. Feijoa crops are also grown nowadays in California.

The feijoa was introduced in New Zealand in 1903 and has become a popular crop there. The country exports the fruit to the United States, Japan, and throughout western Europe (Morton).

Botanical Description

The feijoa tree is an busy evergreen shrub or small tree, typically 3-23 feet high and 15 feet wide. The tree grows best in climates with mild summers and requires cool winters in order to bear fruit. The glossy leaves are ovular, thick, and leathery with a whitish hairy underside. The bark of the tree is pale grey and the young branches are white and hairy. The tree is renowned for its flowers, which are purplish-red on the outside and white on the inside. It has prominent stamen that are bright red.

The feijoa fruit has dull green skin whose texture ranges from smooth to rough and pebbly. Its shape can be anywhere between round to pear-shaped and is usually the size of a chicken's egg. The flesh of the fruit is creamy white, slightly granular and watery with a jelly-like center pulp. The pulp holds seeds that are extremely small and often eaten with the flesh. The fruit is especially noticeable due to its strong, persisting fragrance.

Culinary Usage

The feijoa fruit is sweet and said to resemble a combination of pineapple, guava, and strawberry with minty overtones. When eaten raw, as is most common, the feijoa is simply cut in half and then scooped out with a spoon. In South America, the bitter skin is sometimes eaten along with it. Feijoas can be placed into salads, chutneys, and deserts such as puddings, cakes, and pies. They can be used in recipes as a substitute for apples. In New Zealand, the fruit can be found as flavoring in yogurts, ice creams, and soft drinks, while Brazilians like to use it in preserves. Feijoas is also be used to make wines in Asia or juices and ciders in New Zealand.

The feijoa's thick, crunchy flower petals are slightly sweet can be used raw in salads.

Other Uses

The feijoa tree is an extremely attractive and low maintenance plant and is therefore often used for landscaping in places such as England and southern Africa. New Zealanders use it as a windbreaker for other crops.

Though the feijoa is not particularly known for its medicinal qualities, the fruit is sometimes used as a digestive aid and as a cosmetic exfoliant. The skin has been studied for its antibacterial properties.



Dos Santos, Karine Louise, Nivaldo Peroni, Raymond Paul Guries, and Rubens Onofre Nodari. "Raditional Knowledge and Management of Feijoa (Acca sellowiana) in Southern Brazil." Economic Botany 63.2 (2009). SpringerLink. Web.

Gollner, Adam Leith. The Fruit Hunters: A Story of Nature, Adventure, Commerce and Obsession. New York: Scribner, 2008.

Morton, Julia. "Feijoa." Fruits of Warm Climates. Miami: Florida Flair Books, 1987. Web.