Click on images to enlarge
shrub (Photo: Performance Landscapes)
leaves, flowers and young fruit (Photo: Rosa Say, CC BY-NC-ND)
immature fruit (Photo: John Mauremootoo, CC-BY-NC)
mature fruit (Photo: Forest & Kim Starr, CC-BY)
infestation, Mauritius (Photo: John Mauremootoo, CC-BY-NC)
Psidium cattleianum Afzel. ex Sabine
Psidium cattleianum var. littorale (O. Berg) Fosb., Psidium littoraleRaddi
Strawberry guava, cattley guava, cherry guava, Chinese guava
Native to South America (eastern Brazil and north-eastern Uruguay).
Psidium cattleianum is invasive in parts of Tanzania (Tropical Biology Association 2010). The editors are not aware of records of the presence of P. cattleianum in Kenya and Uganda, though this does not necessarily mean that it is absent from these countries.
Agricultural areas, coastland, natural forests, planted forests, range/grasslands, riparian zones (banks of watercourses), ruderal/disturbed, scrub/shrublands, urban areas, wetlands (Henderson 2001). The yellow form tends to be a bit less hardy and therefore is found at slightly lower elevations. The Psidium cattleianum is now a weed in many parts of the tropics where it has quickly adapted to a variety of climates (Henderson 2001). In tropical climates, P. cattleianum is most often found growing at higher elevations, where the mean temperature is relatively cool.
Psidium cattleianum is a small erect evergreen bush or tree growing to 7.5 m, although often much smaller. Its bark is grey to reddish-brown and peels readily. The leaves are dark green, opposite, elliptic to oblong and up to 8 cm long. They are shiny and leathery in texture.
Its white flowers (15-25 mm across) have five petals and numerous stamens. These flowers are borne singly in the leaf upper forks. Its fleshy fruit (2-3 cm across) turn purplish-red in colour when mature and are crowned with the some of the old flower parts. Some varieties have a yellow skin. The whitish flesh is very juicy and has a strawberry flavour which in some varieties can have a spicy taste.
Psidium cattleianum produces a lot of fruit with each seed containing up to though usually less than 70 seeds. The seeds of which are dispersed by birds and mammals. It can also reshoot from stumps and produce suckers from near the base of the trunk.
Psidium cattleianum may be confused with Psidium guajava (guava) and Psidium guineense (Brazilian guava). These species can be distinguished by the following differences:
The fruit of Psidium cattleianum is edible and can be eaten raw or processed into jams and other products. The wood is useful for poles. However, these uses cannot compensate for this plant's overall negative impacts.
Psidium cattleianum can form dense thickets that exclude native vegetation and reduce native species regeneration. It is considered to be the worst invasive plant species in several islands in the Indian Ocean.
It has been nominated as among 100 of the "World's Worst" invaders by the IUCN Invasive Species Specialist Group and it has been listed as an invader in South Africa as a Category 3 invader in South Africa (no further planting is allowed - except with special permission - nor is trade in propagative material. Existing plants must be prevented from spreading).
The precise management measures adopted for any plant invasion will depend upon factors such as the terrain, the cost and availability of labour, the severity of the infestation and the presence of other invasive species. Some components of an integrated management approach are introduced below.
The best form of invasive species management is prevention. If prevention is no longer possible, it is best to treat the weed infestations when they are small to prevent them from establishing (early detection and rapid response). Controlling the weed before it seeds will reduce future problems. Control is generally best applied to the least infested areas before dense infestations are tackled. Consistent follow-up work is required for sustainable management.
Small plants can be removed by hand. Larger plants can be uprooted but it is labour intensive and the plant can resprout if root fragments are left in the ground. Various chemicals can be used to control Psidium cattleianum through basal bark (painting herbicide onto the bark) and cut stump applications. When using any herbicide always read the label first and follow all instructions and safety requirements. If in doubt consult an expert.
Research into biological control agents for P. cattleianum is being carried out in Hawaii.
Not listed as a noxious weed by the state or governments in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
Henderson, L. (2001). Alien weeds and invasive plants. A complete guide to declared weeds and invaders in South Africa. Plant Protection Research Institute Handbook No. 12, 300pp. PPR, ARC South Africa.
Agnes Lusweti, National Museums of Kenya; Emily Wabuyele, National Museums of Kenya, Paul Ssegawa, Makerere University; John Mauremootoo, BioNET-INTERNATIONAL Secretariat - UK.
This fact sheet is adapted from The Environmental Weeds of Australia by Sheldon Navie and Steve Adkins, Centre for Biological Information Technology, University of Queensland. We recognise the support from the National Museums of Kenya, Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI) - Tanzania and Makerere University, Uganda. This activity was undertaken as part of the BioNET-EAFRINET UVIMA Project (Taxonomy for Development in East Africa).
BioNET-EAFRINET Regional Coordinator: [email protected]