An Eco-sustainable World
ArborealSpecies Plant

Plinia cauliflora

Plinia cauliflora

Jabuticaba or Brazilian grapetree (Plinia cauliflora (Mart.) Kausel, 1956) is an arboreal species belonging to the Myrtaceae family.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Subkingdom Tracheobionta,
Spermatophyta superdivision,
Magnoliophyta division,
Class Magnoliopsida,
Subclass Rosidae,
Order Myrtales,
Myrtaceae family,
Subfamily Myrtoideae,
Tribe Myrteae,
Genus Pliny,
P. cauliflora species.
The term is basionym:
– Myrtus cauliflora Mart..
The terms are synonyms:
– Eugenia cauliflora (Mart.) DC.;
– Eugenia jaboticaba (Vell.) Kiaersk.;
– Myrcia jaboticaba (Vell.) Baill.;
– Myrciaria cauliflora (Mart.) O.Berg;
– Myrciaria jaboticaba (Vell.) O.Berg;
– Myrtus cauliflora Mart.;
– Myrtus jaboticaba Vell.;
– Plinia jaboticaba (Vell.) Kausel.

Etymology –
The term Plinia of the genus is dedicated by Linnaeus to Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus known as Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD), a Roman naturalist who wrote a monumental Naturalis Historia in 37 books, the summa of the scientific knowledge of the time.
The specific cauliflora epithet comes from caulis stem, caule and flos floris flower: with flowers (and consequently fruits) that grow directly on the stem.
The ordinary name jabuticaba is derived from the Lusitanized Tupi word îaboti jaboti/jabuti (turtle) + kaba (place), meaning “the place where the turtles are found”; it has also been interpreted to mean “like turtle fat”, referring to the white flesh of the fruit. It may also come from ïapotï’kaba which means “fruits in a bud”.
The Guarani name is yvapurũ: yva means fruit and the onomatopoeic word purũ, from pururũ, describes the crunching sound that the fruit produces when bitten.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Plinia cauliflora is a plant native to Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina. There are also autochthonous specimens in the Argentine provinces of Corrientes, Misiones and, to a lesser extent, in the eastern provinces of Formosa and Chaco. In Bolivia, where its natural distribution corresponds to the department of Santa Cruz, it grows in dry or sub-humid areas below 1700 m of altitude. Within Bolivia, it has been scientifically reported in the provinces of Andrés Ibáñez, Obispo Santiestevan (province), Florida, Chiquitos and Cordillera, it has also been found in Honduras, Colombia and Costa Rica, although it is rare.
The habitat of this plant is not known in its natural state.

Description –
Plinia cauliflora is a very slow growing evergreen ornamental shrub or small tree with a dense canopy, which can grow 3 to 10 meters in height.
It has one or more trunks and the branches emerge close to the ground and spread out to form a dense, broad, round and symmetrical crown.
The leaves are salmon colored when young and green when mature.
The flowers are white and grow directly on the trunk (hence caulifloria). In its original environment it flowers and bears fruit once or twice a year, but with abundant humidity it flowers frequently and the fruits can be present all year round.
The fruits are 3–4 cm in size, with one or more seeds (up to four); they grow directly on the main trunk and branches of the plant, giving the tree a distinctive appearance. The skin is thick, purple or greenish, astringent and covers a sweet, white or pinkish, gelatinous pulp.

Cultivation –
The Jabuticaba is a tree that grows very slowly and prefers a moist, slightly acidic soil but it even adapts very easily to alkaline-sandy substrates if cared for and irrigated. It is also intolerant of salty soils or saltiness. It is mildly drought tolerant, although fruit production may be reduced and irrigation will be necessary in prolonged or severe droughts.
This plant has been cultivated in Brazil since pre-Columbian times. Today it is a commercial crop in the center and south of the country.
Commercial fruit cultivation in the Northern Hemisphere is more limited by the slow growth and short shelf life of fruit than by temperature requirements. Grafted plants can bear fruit in five years, while trees grown from seed can take 10 to 20 years to bear fruit.
Another problem connected to a particular environment, and which limits open field cultivation in non-original districts, is the fact that flowering is delicate, and requires a cool spring period, but also without excessive humidity.
In the northern hemisphere, the commercial cultivation of this fruit is reduced more due to the extremely slow growth and perishability of the fruit, than due to thermal requirements.
From a phytosanitary point of view it is a plant vulnerable to rust (Austropuccinia psidii), especially when the tree flowers during heavy rains. Other important diseases affecting jabuticaba are canker (Colletotrichum gloeosporioides), wasting (Rosellinia) and fruit rot (Botrytis cinerea).
In the details of the cultivation it should be remembered that, being a plant of subtropical areas, where it is found at altitudes of up to 1,700 meters, it grows best in areas where the annual daytime temperatures are between 22 and 28 °C but can tolerate 10-32 °C c.
Under dormant conditions it can survive occasional short-lived temperatures down to about -3°C, but young shoot growth can be severely impaired at -1°C.
It prefers an average annual rainfall between 900 and 1,500 mm, but tolerates 700 – 1,700 mm, and also requires a sunny position.
From a pedological point of view, it prefers a fertile, deep, well-drained soil, rich in humus and slightly acidic, as it prefers a pH in the range of 5.5 – 7.5, tolerating 4.5 – 8.
It is a plant that tolerates moderate levels of salt in the soil and needs a high iron requirement.
In warm tropical and subtropical areas with low rainfall the plant can produce 5 or 6 crops each year.
The plants have a compact, fibrous root system and transplant well.
Propagation occurs by seed; this has a short vitality and is therefore best sown as soon as it is mature. It is advisable to sow in a semi-shaded position in the nursery. Germination rates can be 90% or more, with the seed germinating within 20 – 35 days. Young seedlings grow rather slowly.
It can also be propagated agamically by preparing cuttings from side branches.

Customs and Traditions –
Plinia cauliflora is a plant known by various names: jabuticaba (Brazilian Portuguese: ʒabutʃiˈkabɐ) is the edible fruit of the jabuticabeira or Brazilian vine. She is also known by her Guarani name yva puru or yva hu. Yvapurũ: yva fruit, purũ onomatopoeic term that reproduces the sound of the fruit when you bite into it: pururũ.
The jabuticaba tree appears on the coat of arms of Contagem, Minas Gerais and Brazil, and is widely used as a bonsai species, particularly in Taiwan and in various areas of the Caribbean.
In Brazil, the word “jabuticaba” is used to mean something that is thought to be typically Brazilian, as the tree is believed to grow only in Brazil. It’s usually a (self) denigrating expression: the only truly Brazilian thing, and a good one, is the jaboticaba.
Also in Brazilian politics, and less commonly in everyday speech, “jabuticaba” is slang that describes a political or legal context considered absurd, unusual, or unnecessarily complex.
Finally, the jabuticabeira appears as a charge on the coat of arms of Contagem, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
The tree is cultivated for its black-purple fruits with white pulp, which, in some closely related species, are flattened and greenish; they can be eaten raw or used for jams and drinks (simple juice or wine).
The fruit has been compared to the Muscadine grape, and in Japan, the flavor of jabuticaba has been described as similar to that of the Kyoho grape.
The fruits, very common in Brazilian markets, are mainly eaten fresh; their popularity can be compared to that of grapes. However, they are not long-lasting: lacking acidity they can ferment as early as 3 or 4 days after harvesting, therefore they are often used for jams, tarts, and given their ease of fermentation, for wines and liqueurs; for the same reason it does not interest large-scale distribution, and is consumed in the places of cultivation.
Various substances, powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories have been isolated from the fruit. One of them, jaboticabine, is found only in this fruit. The fruit is also rich in vitamin C.
Traditionally, the peel is used to prepare an astringent decoction, for the common anti-inflammatory uses of such a product (emoptysis, diarrhea, and for gargling in case of tonsillitis).
However, no medicinal uses are known.
The wood is straight grained, medium texture, moderately heavy, but susceptible to herbivorous organisms.
It is only used as fuel and to make charcoal.
Among other uses it is reported that Jabuticaba’s slow growth and small size when immature make jabuticabeira popular as bonsai or as ornamental container plants in temperate regions. It is a bonsai species that is widely used in Taiwan and some parts of the Caribbean.

Method of Preparation –
The fruits of Plinia cauliflora are widespread in Brazilian markets, the jabuticabas are mostly eaten fresh. The fruit can start fermenting 3 or 4 days after picking, so it’s often used to make jams, tarts, strong wines, and liqueurs. Due to the short shelf life, as mentioned, fresh jabuticaba is rare in markets outside the growing areas.
The fruit can be eaten raw, made into jellies, syrups and preserves, or fermented into wine.
The purplish, grape-like fruit has a thick skin with translucent, juicy flesh and a pleasant vinous flavor.
The jam is marketed in Brazil as ‘Brazilian Grape Jelly’.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

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Attention: The pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not in any way represent a medical prescription; we therefore decline all responsibility for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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