By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Guava is a popular tropical fruit tree. The fruit is delicious eaten fresh or in a host of culinary concoctions. Not only is the tree known for its fruit, but it has a long-standing tradition of use as a medicinal remedy for numerous ailments. The bark is especially valuable due to its high content of tannin, proteins, and starch. Before you try these, however, you should know how to use guava tree bark safely and consult with your doctor prior to dosing.
Herbal remedies are making a comeback as the pharmaceutical industry increases prices and side effects from approved drugs become known. Many natural remedies have the ability to replace harsh pharmaceutical drugs, often without excessive dependency and alternate effects. However, it is always best to talk to a knowledgeable professional prior to self-dosing with any product. Guava bark remedies may contain such side effects as constipation and other adverse reactions in combination with diabetes and antidiarrheal medicines.
Preparing natural concoctions yourself should be frowned upon. This is because any natural remedy has very specific preparation requirements and improper practices can open up a pathway of toxicity and potential harm. Many guava bark remedies are readily available on the internet and in natural health stores. This begs the question, what to do with bark from guava?
Anecdotal evidence and modern health practitioners claim it is useful in the treatment of certain ulcers and diarrhea. It may also be helpful in alleviating sore throat, stomach issues, vertigo, and even to regulate menstrual periods. These claims have not been vetted by the FDA, so caution is advised.
The bark is harvested, dried, and crushed for use in medicines. It is then decocted or infused as a tea. Modern medicines are encapsulated for easier dosing, or it can be found in powders, liquids, and tablets. Excessive dosing can cause extreme purging and be fatal in some cases. Ingestion of the decoction should only be done under a physician or herbal professional’s guidance. It is best to use professionally derived supplements for maximum safety.
Certain trials are considering its use as an antifungal, antibacterial, and antiseptic. Soaking the crushed bark, straining it, and using it topically is generally considered safe.
Guava tree bark is an effective astringent, helping with acne and other skin conditions. All parts of the plant contain oxalic acid, which can cause a stinging sensation and should be used in moderation topically. Direct ingestion can promote swelling of the tongue and mucous membranes, especially in sensitive individuals. Again, caution should be taken when using the plant internally.
The antibacterial properties of the bark make it useful to treat cuts, wounds, abrasions, and ulcers. The high Vitamin C content of the plant is also apparent in the bark and has good antioxidant properties. These can help fight free radicals in skin, leaving the complexion refreshed and renewed. Cosmetic guava tree bark uses abound and are generally considered safe in all but the most sensitive individuals.
Disclaimer: The content of this article is for educational and gardening purposes only. Before using or ingesting ANY herb or plant for medicinal purposes or otherwise, please consult a physician or a medical herbalist for advice.
This article was last updated on
Read more about Guava Trees
"Mulch volcano" is a derogatory nickname that describes the excessive use of mulch around a tree. You have probably seen them on people's lawns and in public spaces, since, misguided as they are, they are very common.
A mulch volcano is usually the result of folks building circular raised beds around their trees, then filling the raised beds with mulch. The mulch gets steeper and steeper the closer it gets to the tree, which shoots out of the middle like a lava eruption. In such an arrangement, the mulch maybe two inches high at the perimeter and six inches high up close to the trunk. You might also see a mulch volcano springing out of the grass in the middle of a lawn.
There are several problems with mulch volcanoes as well as dirt mounded around trees:
As a landscape plant, strawberry guava (also called cattley guava) has everything going for it - subtle beauty of form and foliage, beautifully patterned bark, and delicious fruit.
Need a large shrub to plant right next to the house? This plant is the ideal choice.
Because of this plant's shallow root system, it works perfectly near the house as an architectural accent, shade for a too-sunny window, or as a wildlife attractor.
Placement outside a large window is an ideal spot.
There it has wonderful entertainment value (for kids and adults alike) as birds, squirrels and racoons stop by to feast on the fruit.
Little white flowers appear in spring, followed by berry clusters that ripen in summer.
When the berries reach a deep cherry red color they're ready to eat, with a sweet/tart strawberry-like flavor.
If you want some, though, you'll have to pay close attention or the birds, critters and fruit flies may beat you to it. You can pick the fruit before it's completely ripe and bring it indoors to ripen.
The attractive foliage is somewhat open, revealing the beautifully patterned bark with soft orange-brown and light brown mottling on the trunk and branches.
This shrub can also be grown as a small tree, but it's important to keep grass away from the base since weed eaters and lawn mowers can cause injury to the trunk.
Its size makes it a good choice as a tree for small yards. Trimming the base to keep it tree-like will also show off the unusual, showy bark.
Though strawberry guava is great for use in edible landscaping or as a wildlife food source, the handsome look of the plant itself makes it an attractive addition to any style landscaping.
WARNING: Guavas are considered invasive, so avoid planting near a natural habitat like a preserve, where birds can spread the seeds.
This evergreen shrub is a moderate grower and prefers a full to partial sun location.
It can be kept trimmed to about 8 feet or you can let it grow larger.
Though they can get 15 or 20 feet, these plants - especially when grown out in the yard - should be kept to a maximum of about 12 feet in height.
Since their root system is shallow, too-tall guavas could be toppled by strong winds.
Strawberry guava is cold hardy, fine in Zone 9B or anywhere in Zone 10.
Add composted cow manure and either top soil or organic peat humus to the hole when you plant.
These guavas grow with a naturally pretty form so you'll rarely need to do much trimming. Tipping branches will promote bushier growth if you want to do so.
Trim off any branches that grow against the house. Prune for size in fall after fruiting season is over.
Some say the fruit is messy - but many claim the squirrels and birds eat it before it ever hits the ground. To be on the safe side, avoid placement right next to paved areas.
This plant is moderately drought tolerant once established but does best (and produces more fruit) with regular irrigation that allows time for the plant to dry out a bit between waterings.
Fertilize 3 times a year - spring, summer and fall - with a quality granular citrus fertilizer.
If planting a row of these shrubs, place them 4 to 6 feet apart.
You can plant strawberry guava as close to the house as 4 or 5 feet. Situate it so branches aren't touching the structure.
For a small tree in the yard, come away from the house about 6 feet or more.
Along a walkway come in 5 feet or more to allow foot traffic to pass by as the plant matures. This will also help alleviate berries on the walk.
These shrubs will work in large containers.
A.K.A. (also known as): Cattley Guava
GOOD SNOWBIRD PLANT? YES - though you'll miss the fruiting season.
The young leaves of the plant have been used as a tonic to treat digestive conditions such as dysentery and diarrhea in the indigenous medical systems of Brazil and Mexico. Mexican medicinal data document the treatment of acute diarrhea, flatulence, and gastric pain by using a guava leaf water decoction for oral administration 3 times daily. A decoction of young leaves and shoots has been prescribed as a febrifuge and a spasmolytic. In Bolivia and Egypt, guava leaves have been used to treat cough and pulmonary diseases they have also been used to treat cough in India and as an anti-inflammatory and hemostatic agent in China.
Guava bark has been used medically as an astringent and to treat diarrhea in children, while the flowers have been used to treat bronchitis and eye sores and to cool the body. The fruit has been used as a tonic and laxative and for treatment of bleeding gums. The plant has been used in Africa and Asia to prevent and treat scurvy and to treat hypertension in western Africa. Ethnomedicinal reports document use of the plant in treating malaria. Scientific investigations of the medicinal properties of guava leaf products date back to the 1940s.
Pakistan, India, Brazil, and Mexico are the major commercial producers of guava fruit. Hawaii is the largest producer in the United States. Processed guava products include beverages, cheese, ice cream, jams, jellies, juice, syrup, toffee, wine, and dehydrated and canned products.2, 3
Guava trees are native to Mexico and Peru but are easy to grow in most tropical areas. The small fruits are popular for making preserves but can be eaten fresh or made into juice. Guava fruits are an excellent source of vitamins C and A! This is an attractive tree with broad evergreen foliage, interesting peeling bark, and sparkling white flowers
Use fruits to make jams and jellies. Perfect for growing in large patio containers or as a garden specimen.
Feed monthly with a balanced liquid fertilizer.
Water 2 - 3 times per week until established.
Organic-rich, well-drained soil.
Allow fruit to fully ripen before harvesting.
Plant in spring or early fall to give plants the best start.
Choose a location that will allow roots to spread and branches to grow freely. Space plants far enough from building foundations, walls, and decks so that the growing foliage won't crowd the structure. Consider whether tall trees or shrubs will block windows or interfere with the roof or power lines.
To prepare the planting area dig a hole as deep as the root ball and three times as wide. After removing the soil, mix it with some compost or peat moss. This enriches the soil and loosens the existing dirt so that new roots can spread easily.
To remove the plant from the container, gently brace the base of the plant, tip it sideways and tap the outside of the pot to loosen. Rotate the container and continue to tap, loosening the soil until the plant pulls smoothly from the pot. The container can also be removed by carefully cutting it down the side.
Set the plant in the hole. If the root ball is wrapped in burlap fabric this must now be removed along with any string or wire securing the burlap. If roots are tightly packed gently rake them apart with your fingers.
Return the soil to the planting area packing it firmly around the root ball. Fill the hole until the soil line is just at the base of the plant, where the roots begin to flare out from the main stem.
Water the plant well then add a 2” (5cm) layer of mulch, such as shredded bark, around the planting area. Keep the mulch at least 4” (10cm) away from the trunk of the plant as this can keep the bark too moist and cause it to decay.
Depending on rainfall, new plants need to be watered weekly through the first growing season. A slow, one-hour trickle of water should do the job. During hot spells thoroughly soaking the ground up to 8” (20 cm) every few days is better than watering a little bit daily. Deep watering encourages roots to grow further into the ground resulting in a sturdier plant with more drought tolerance.
To check for soil moisture use your finger or a hand trowel to dig a small hole and examine the soil. If the first 2-4” (5-10cm) of soil is dry, it is time to water.
Monitor new plants through the first two years to make sure they are getting the moisture they need. After that they should be sturdy enough to survive on their own.
Established trees should be fertilized every 2-3 years. Feed in early spring when plants start growing.
Fertilizers are available in many forms: granulated, slow-release, liquid feeds, organic or synthetic. Determine which application method is best for the situation and select a product designed for trees and shrubs, or go with a nutritionally balanced, general-purpose formula such as 10-10-10.
Always follow the fertilizer package directions for application rates and scheduling. Over-fertilizing plants or applying at the wrong time during the growing season can result in plant injury.
Pruning may be needed to remove dead branches, encourage bushier growth, promote more flowers, or maintain a specific size or shape.
Dead branches should be removed close to the trunk, flush with the bark. When pruning to control a plant's size or shape, cuts should be made just above a leaf bud and at a slight angle. This bud will be where the new growth sprouts.
Many shrubs can be regularly sheared to keep them shaped as a hedge, edging or formal foundation planting.
Always use sharp, clean tools when pruning. There are many tools available depending on the job. Hand shears, pruners, and loppers are ideal for most shrubs. Pole pruners and tree saws are better for large, mature shrubs or trees. If a tree is so large that it can't be safely pruned with a pole pruner, it is best to call in a professional tree service.