Botanical name: Plinia cauliflora
Common names: Brazilian grapetree, jaboticaba, jabuticaba
Physical Appearance: A relatively small, slow to grow evergreen that can reach a height of up to 15 metres. Unusually, the leaves are a light pink colour when they first appear, turning green as they mature. It has white flowers which grow directly on the trunk.
Natural habitat: Native to South America, the plant can flower and fruit up to 6 times in a single year. Classified as a tropical or subtropical plant so can only tolerate a mild frost. It prefers slightly acidic soils but will grow in other substrates as long as they are well irrigated and nutrient rich.
The fruit: The fruit resembles an over-sized, thick skinned grape measuring between 3-4cm in diameter. The skin is astringent but once removed the inner fruit is revealed. The fruit flesh is sweet when ripe and white or rose pink in colour. The fruit generally contains between 1 and 4 large seed which are recalcitrant therefore become unviable within approximately 10 days when stored at room temperature.
Consumption: Due to the soft nature of the fruit, the Jabuticaba fruit is generally consumed in its raw state or made into jams, wines, tarts and spirits. The fruit does not transport well so in its raw form will mostly be found at markets close to source.
Point of interest: Due to the slow growing nature of the plant and its diminutive size when immature, it is often used for bonsai ornamental planting.
Recipe ideas: The fruit can be used to make sweets and cakes. A simple sponge cake with a sweet Jabuticaba topping served with cream or custard goes down a treat (similar to cherry sponge cake).
Photos courtesy of Wikipedia Commons Redis and suwanneerose.com