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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

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Jabuticaba
The Jabuticaba (Brazilian Grape Tree) is a fruit-bearing tree in the family
Myrtaceae native to Minas Gerais in southeastern Brazil grown for the
purple, grape-like fruits it produces. Other related species in the genus
Myrciaria, often referred to by the same common name, are native to Brazil,
Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia. The fruit is purplish black with a white
pulp; it can be eaten raw or be used to make jellies and drinks (plain juice
or wine).

Description
The fruit tree (named jabuticabeira in Portuguese) has salmon-colored leaves
when they are young, turning green posteriorly. It is a very slow growing
tree which prefers moist, lightly acidic soils for best growth. It is widely
adaptable, however, and grows satisfactorily even on alkaline beach-sand
type soils, so long as they are tended and irrigated. Its flowers are white
and grow directly from its trunk in a cauliflorous habit. Naturally the tree
may flower and fruit only once or twice a year, but when continuously
irrigated it flowers frequently, and fresh fruit can be available year round
in tropical regions.

The fruit is 3-4 cm in diameter with one to four large seeds, borne directly
on the main trunks and branches of the plant, lending a distinctive
appearance to the fruiting tree. It has a thick, purple, astringent skin
that covers a sweet, white, or rosy pink gelatinous flesh. Common in
Brazilian markets, jaboticabas are largely eaten fresh; their popularity has
been likened to that of grapes in the US. Fresh fruit may begin to ferment 3
to 4 days after harvest, so they are often used to make jams, tarts, strong
wines, and liqueurs. Due to the extremely short shelf-life, fresh jaboticaba
fruit is very rare in markets outside of areas of cultivation.
Traditionally, an astringent decoction of the sun-dried skins has been used
as a treatment for hemoptysis, asthma, diarrhoea, and gargled for chronic
inflammation of the tonsils.

Leaves of Myrciaria cauliflora. Several potent antioxidant and
anti-inflammatory anti-cancer compounds have been isolated from the fruit.
One that is unique to the fruit is jaboticabin.
In Brazil the fruit of several species, namely M. jaboticaba (Vell.) O.Berg,
M. tenella (DC.) O.Berg, and M. trunciflora O.Berg, share the same common
name. While all jaboticaba species are subtropical, all can tolerate mild,
brief frosts, and some species may be marginally more cold-tolerant.
Commercial cultivation of the fruit in the Northern Hemisphere is more
restricted by extremely slow growth and the short shelf-life of fruit than
by temperature requirements. Grafted plants may bear fruit in 5 years; seed
grown trees may take 10 to 20 years to bear fruit, though their slow growth
and small size when immature make them popular as bonsai or container
ornamental plants in temperate regions. Jaboticabas are fairly adaptable to
various kinds of growing conditions, tolerating sand or rich topsoil. They
are intolerant of salty soils or salt spray. They are tolerant of mild
drought, though fruit production may be reduced, and irrigation will be
required in extended or severe droughts.

Cultural aspects
The name jaboticaba, derived from the Tupi word Jabuti (tortoise) + Caba
(place), meaning the place where you find tortoises, has its correct
spelling in Guarani as "Yvapuru", where yvameans fruit, and the onomatopoeic
word puru for the crunching sound the fruit produces when bitten.
The jaboticaba tree, which appears as a charge on the coat of arms of
Contagem, Minas Gerais, Brazil,[2] has become a widely used species in the
art of bonsai, particularly in Taiwanand parts of the Caribbean.


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