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Eat Straight from the Trunk – The Curious Case of Brazil’s Jabuticaba Tree

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Written By Lakeisha Ethans

Heritage Gardener with Grafting Expertise

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Home » Ancient & Remarkable Trees » Eat Straight from the Trunk – The Curious Case of Brazil’s Jabuticaba Tree

Meet the Jabuticaba, a remarkable fruit native to Brazil, known for its glossy, purplish-black appearance and sweet, gelatinous pulp.

This exotic fruit not only looks captivating but also grows in a unique fashion, sprouting directly from the trunk and branches of its tree, the Jabuticabeira.

Jabuticaba at a Glance

The Jabuticaba tree, scientifically known as Plinia cauliflora, falls under the Myrtaceae family and thrives in the tropical climates of southeastern Brazil.

It is classified as ‘Least Concern’ by conservationists, reflecting its abundant presence in its native habitat.

Also Known As: Jaboticaba, Brazilian Grape, Jabuticabeira, Myrciaria caulifora

Fruit and leaves of a Jaboticaba tree

Why the Jabuticaba is Special

Unlike most fruit trees, the Jabuticaba bears flowers and fruits directly on its trunk, a botanical phenomenon known as cauliflory.

These white flowers and subsequently the fruits create a stunning visual against the tree’s bark, making it not only a source of delicious fruits but also a striking ornamental plant.

Flowers on a Young Jaboticaba Tree (Myrciaria caulifora)
Flowers on a Young Jaboticaba Tree – Image by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

Growing the Exotic Jabuticaba

Jabuticaba trees prefer moist, rich, and slightly acidic soils but are adaptable to various conditions, even alkaline sands if well irrigated.

While they are slow growers, achieving fruit in 5 to 20 years depending on propagation methods, the wait is worthwhile for the unique addition they offer to gardens.

They will thrive in USDA growing zones 9-11.

Unripe fruit on a Jabuticaba tree (Plinia cauliflora)
Unripe (green) and ripe (purple-black) fruit

From Tree to Table

The fruits of the Jabuticaba are commonly eaten fresh in Brazil or used to craft an array of delightful treats such as jellies, jams, and wines.

Their rich, muscadine-like flavor is perfect for culinary experimentation, inspiring everything from tarts to strong, flavorful liqueurs.

Large fruiting Jabuticaba (Plinia cauliflora)

Jabuticaba in Your Garden

Ideal for bonsai enthusiasts, Jabuticaba’s slow growth and compact root system make it perfect for container gardening.

Whether as a bonsai or a full-sized tree, cultivating Jabuticaba can bring a touch of Brazilian flora into your home or garden.

Jabuticaba’s Place in Culture

Beyond its culinary uses, Jabuticaba holds a place in Brazilian culture and folklore, symbolizing both the unique and the unexpected in everyday life.

It even appears on the coat of arms of Contagem, Minas Gerais, symbolizing local pride and heritage.

Did You Know? Jabuticaba’s Fascinating Relatives

The Jabuticaba is just one of many in the diverse Myrtaceae family.

Its relatives include the yellow Jabuticaba (Myrciaria glazioviana), the large Jabuticaba (Plinia grandifolia), and the uniquely sour Jabuticaba (Plinia oblongata), each with its own distinctive traits and preferred growing conditions.

Yellow Jabuticaba (Myrciaria glazioviana)
Yellow Jabuticaba (Myrciaria glazioviana) – Image by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

Want More?

If you found the Jabuticaba tree interesting, you would likely enjoy reading about the Dynamite tree or the Dragon Blood tree.

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Lakeisha Ethans

Heritage Gardener with Grafting Expertise

Lakeisha grew up in East Africa, literally surrounded by nature which sparked her interest in learning more about trees and plants from a very young age. She belongs to a family of gardeners, so for her, gardening is a way of life, a tradition she’s proud to uphold. As a self-taught gardener, Lakeisha has successfully grafted trees to produce hybrids for gardens and landscapes. When she’s not gardening, she’s writing about her experience with nature or watching baking fails!