Tropical Plants of the Myrtle Family

Plants of the tropical myrtle (Myrtaceae) family may not be suitable for Northern gardens. Their love of warm climates, however, doesn't prevent them from contributing to the northern lifestyle in other ways. These aromatic flowering and fruiting trees are responsible for cloves and clove oil, allspice, and bay rum. They give the world guava and fragrant eucalyptus leaves and oil. Many of them make attractive container plants where winters are severe.

Yellow Strawberry Guava

Yellow strawberry guava (Psidium littorale) is a fruiting shrub native to Brazil. Hardy to winter temperatures of 20 to 40 degrees F, it reaches up to 25 feet in the wild or where it can grow as an in-ground plant. As a container plant in colder areas, it grows up to 6 feet high, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. Evergreen plants have glossy 3-inch leaves that emerge bronze and mature to dark green. Yellow-brown to greenish-gray branches have fragrant, multi-stamened, white spring flowers. Blooms appear in April and May. Red, tangy-sweet summer berries follow. Edible straight off the bushes, they also make tasty jelly and juice. Plants in tropical areas are susceptible to fruit flies, whiteflies and guava moths. Where winter-hardy, this shrub makes and attractive hedge, says the Missouri Botanical Garden. Container plants must overwinter indoors. Give yellow strawberry guava full sun. Having more than one plant may provide cross-pollination and larger fruit crops.

Allspice

Allspice (Pimenta dioica), a West Indies and Central America native plant, tolerates winter temperatures of 30 degrees and higher. A broadleaf evergreen tree, it stands up to 40 feet high and 25 feet wide. In July, it bears loose pyramidal clusters (panicles) of creamy flowers. They give way to 1/4-inch green fruits. Dried fruits are ground into allspice, named for its combination tastes of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and black pepper. Allspice is a Caribbean cooking staple, says the Missouri Botanical Garden. In-ground allspice likes averagely moist, well-drained soil and full sun. As a container plant it may not flower and needs peat-rich potting soil and high humidity. Container plants will overwinter indoors.

Jaboticaba

Jaboticaba (Myrica cauliflora), like allspice, is a broadleaf evergreen hardy to 30 degrees F. Native to southern Brazil, it stands 10 to 15 feet high and up to 20 feet wide. Also known as the Brazilian grape tree, jaboticaba has a densely branched round form with 1- to 4-inch, glossy deep green leaves. Clusters of pale yellow flowers and purple fruit grow directly out of the branches. Trees may have multiple sets of flowers and fruit each year--as many a six in their native habitat, says the Missouri Botanical Garden. This plant performs well as a garden planting in frost-free regions and as a container plant overwintered inside elsewhere. Give it a sunny to partly shady spot with deep, rich, well-drained acidic soil.

Keywords: subtropical myrtle plants, guava trees, allpsice plants, evergreen myrtle shrubs

About this Author

A freelance writer, Judy Wolfe has owned Prose for the Pros, a freelance writing business, since 2006. She's been an inveterate traveler since 1961 and draws on her travel experiences to provide articles for such websites as Chincoteague Island Vacations and Berlin Dude. Wolfe holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature from California State University at Pomona.