Grumichama is another member of the myrtle family from South America that includes the pitanga, jaboticaba and feijoa. Other members of this adaptable family closer to home include the eucalyptus and the lilly pilly.
Botanically known as Eugenia dombeyi, the grumichama is a highly-ornamental small tree with a delicious purple-black fruit. It is widely recommended for many subtropical areas because it is easy to grow and produces abundant quantities of good fruit.
Crimson to purple-black fruits appear four weeks after the pretty white flowers. About the diameter of a dollar coin, the fruits have a thin skin and white melting flesh. The pleasant flavour makes grumichama worth eating fresh off the tree. It also can be stewed and used for jam, jelly and in fruit cakes.
Like the jaboticaba (tree grape), grumichama is a slow-growing compact small tree. A mature height of four to five metres can be expected. It makes an excellent hedge plant and is worth considering for tub planting.
Its big, handsome leathery leaves are dark glossy-green. New foliage has a purple-red colour which adds an attractive highlight in the early summer months.
Most Eugenias are fairly cold hardy. When the grumichama is mature it can withstand temperatures down to minus 2C. I have seen young plants in pots breeze through this winter under shadecloth with no apparent distress.
This robustness in the face of one of our most severe winters gives me confidence that grumichama will prove to be a very successful introduction to Perth gardens.
While our sandy soils are very free draining, they need substantial bolstering with organic materials to provide a successful springboard for growth. I recommend two parts organic material such as Compeat, Groganic or mature cow or chicken manure to one part original soil.
During summer, grumichama appreciates ample watering and a humid atmosphere. Increased humidity can be achieved by heavy mulching and by positioning sprinklers either in the canopy of foliage or above the tree.This sort of extra care may sound a “bit much”, but I would recommend no less for a lemon tree in order to achieve good results. Like a lemon, your grumichama will perform under a lesser regime, but will fall short of achieving it’s potential.
Under favourable conditions you can look forward to enjoying grumichama coffee cake or grumichama liqueur in about three years from planting. Long before you enjoy the fruit, however, you are sure to appreciate the good looks of this charmer from Brazil.