Growing conditions for the Grumichama
Growing Grumichama plants (Eugenia Dombeyi) as a backyard fruit tree is certainly not something often talked about mainly because the Grumichama is not a very well known fruit tree.
Actually, it's more like a large shrub and is often sold as a nice hedging plant (which also bears edible fruit as a bonus) but we purchased our Grumichama as a fruit tree first and an ornamental second. Meaning that, instead of situating this tree in our orchard with many of our other conventional fruit trees we decided to use our Grumichama in our ornamental garden to fill a gap.
And fill a gap it did! The Grumichama is a large bushy evergreen shrub (reaching about 3 metres high) with glossy leaves and when pruned forms a tight hedge. Even if left grow naturally it becomes quite dense – perhaps not initially, but over several years and once properly established it does thicken up beautifully.
I've found this plant does tolerate dry conditions well we have ours positioned in a harsh part of the garden with pretty ordinary top soil, which has a clay base, however apart from a slow start our Grumichama is growing strong. Also, due to a few larger trees surrounding the shrub it really only gets sunlight through the morning before being mostly shaded out after midday but again it seems to be thriving regardless.
There are actually two varieties of the Grumichama the Black (Eugenia Dombeyi) featured in this article and the Yellow (Eugenia Brasiliensis).
The tree will grow readily by seed (apparently), however, seed do need scoring or roughening up before planting to imporve success – propagating Grumichama by seed is soemthing I haven't tried.
The Grumichama fruit
The fruit itself develops late spring after a brief flowering of pretty white flowers. Fruit development is very fast and if you're not careful the crop will be lost on the ground as the fruit drops easily once ripe. Birds and other animals will also take the fruit so I'd recommend picking ASAP once the fruit has just ripened to avoid disappointment.
Fruit size is similar to a small cherry but the flesh is not as solid with a consistency more like a guava than a cherry. Grumichama fruit usually has one or two small seeds which are easy to remove or spit out when eating.
The taste of Grumichama fruit is a cross between a guava and a grape – it's quite pleasant! The dark purple skin is easy to eat and apparently extremely high in antioxidants (a super food). I expect the fruit would make a great jam or jelly although I'm yet to try this out.
A very handy gap filler (image above)
Grumichama and Fruit Fly
Since I live in a fruit fly area, which has both the Mediterranean and Queensland fruit fly species, I do get asked how susceptible is the Grumichama fruit to fruit fly strike? Unfortunately, I have to report that Grumichama fruit does indeed get stung and what's worse it can be difficult to see any signs of infestation until the fruit is opened. Typically over half our crop get stung and subsequently ruined by these awful insects and the only way to limit fruit fly damage is to set baits and cover the tree with a net (both of which I am yet to do for various reasons) but I intend to bait plus cover the shrub next season.
If you're worried about fruit fly, an alternative to the Grumichama for subtropical regions could be the Barbados Cherry (Acerola) here's a short article about the Acerola – it doesn't tend to attract fruit fly strike as much and if stung the larva don't usually develop due to the higher acidity of the fruit (that's my theory anyway).
Perhaps the yellow fruiting variety of Grumichama would be better as I've seen other yellow fruits get left alone by fruit fly in my garden but I'm yet to find this out.
Here's a video on the Grumichama
I do think the Grumichama is a top plant to grow in the garden because it can fill two purposes as a fruit tree and also as an ornamental to fill a gap anywhere.
It's a great looking shrub and the fruit is well worth growing!
Feel free to comment or ask questions below.