One taste of the unique, sweet abiu fruit and you’ll want to plant your own abiu tree, stat! Since abiu is native to the tropical areas of South America, it is fairly easy to grow your own abiu in Hawai’i or other warm climates. Here’s how.
To grow abiu, you will need to plant two or more trees because the trees require cross-pollination to produce fruits. You will also need to have a fresh seed that you have soaked in water overnight, or start with a seedling from a nursery.
Although the fruit is native to Brazil, abiu has been growing in Hawai’i for over 100 years, so it is fairly easy to get a seed or seedling to start your own small abiu grove.
Related: Are you looking to grow tropical fruit trees, like Abiu? Youʻre in luck. Homesteadinʻ Hawaii has just opened a seed store, where we ship super fresh tropical tree seeds straight to your door. We have fruits like abiu, surname cherry, ice cream bean, rollinia and more! Check out the store today!
The Fruit Of The Abiu
Abiu fruits grow to be about the size of a large lemon, although they are considered a type of berry. Abiu is ready to eat when the outer peel turns from green to bright yellow, but don’t eat the peel, it has a natural latex in it that isn’t edible.
A ripe abiu has white, almost translucent flesh and one or two large seeds inside (you do not consume the seeds). The flesh is what you eat and it is creamy and has almost a sweet buttery flavor to it, without being too-sweet. It is especially delicious made into ice cream or sorbet.
Growing From Seeds
Abiu trees are typically grown from seeds, although there are grafted varieties available. If you want to start with your own, the seed must be fresh. The easiest way? Get a few fresh, ripe abiu fruits, enjoy its sweet, sweet flavor and save the seeds.
I generally just stick a fresh seed in a pot of soil and wait for it to sprout up. It can take a long time, months even. To speed up germination, Iʻd do a few things differently.
Each seed naturally contains a waterproof coating, so you must scratch it in order for the seed to germinate. You can do this gently with a bit of sandpaper or nicking with a pair of pointed tweezers, blunt scissors.
The intent is to ensure water gets into the seed, but that the seed is not actually cut or damaged, don’t be aggressive with scratching your seed. A few nicks or roughening up the outside should do it.
Then, place the seeds in a bowl of shallow water (bonus points for untreated rainwater!) for a full day. Plant seeds in well-draining soil in pots or in rows that get plenty of sunlight. If you plant in rows, give a space of 10 feet or more between each one.
Growing from Seedlings
You may be able to get grafted seedlings from a local nursery. In Hawaii we have a variety of Abiu that goes by the name Z1. It produces a large, sweet tasting abiu whereas the seedling abiuʻs tend to be smaller, but delicious.
When choosing a seedling, look for seedlings that are younger than a year old to plant on your homestead. Smaller trees take better when transplanted than larger trees. Plus, you can save a whole lot of money doing it that way.
Plant in well-draining soil, ideally a bit sandy, (although mine grows great in rocky Puna) in an area that gets plenty of sunlight. Space seedlings 10-12 feet apart.
Nursery trees still need extra attention until they reach five years of age, but you will have a bit of a headstart than if you had grown them from seed. Get at least two abiu trees for successful cross pollination.
Another great tree to grow from seed is the Ice Cream Bean Tree. In fact, Ice Cream Bean Trees are great companion plantings for the Abiu because theyʻre a great source of mulch material and the fix nitrogen into the soil. Learn all about growing the Ice Cream Bean in this informative post.
Abiu trees can tolerate a good amount of water, as long as the soil is very well drained. If your property has areas of pooling, you may want to avoid planting abius there. Instead choose well draining high ground or create a mounded areas to plant your seedlings in.
Opposite is true in dry areas. Abius need water, regularly. If you are in a dry climate you can plant your abiu in water harvesting basins that catch and hold rainfall so that the tree can get its requirements.
Thereʻs a great book out there by Brad Lancaster out of Arizona in which he goes over all sorts of ways you can harvest huge amounts of rainwater on your landscape. Itʻs called Harvesting Rainwater in the Drylands and Beyond. Itʻs a great book and a must read for any property developer.
Fertilize your abiu trees when they are 3 months old, and replace fertilizer every 3 or 4 months until the tree is two years old, then reduce to every 6 months. I have found Blood Meal to be a great fertilzer for my Abiuʻs in the early years.
As my trees get older, I just like to feed them a lot of compost rich in animal manure and top dress with mulch. Doing this a couple of times per year has been a game changer for my Abiu trees.
Abiu trees grow best with an average of 12 hours of sunlight a day. You should regularly weed around your seedlings to ensure other plants don’t compete for sunlight and stunt their growth. Remove nearby weeds until your tree is about three feet in height.
How long do Abiuʻs take to bear fruit?
Abiu are fairly fast-growing trees and you can expect fruit after three years.
In Hawai’i, abiu trees produce fruit year-round and have a constant cycle of flowers and fruits for delicious abiu fruit almost all the time.
If you want to encourage larger fruit, thin the flowers or young developing fruit so that they can have space as they develop.
How to know when Abiu is ready to harvest?
When the fruit turns from green to almost entirely yellow, it is ready to harvest. Abiu has a short shelf-life and should be consumed within 4 days.
The fruit is also very fragile and easily bruised. Don’t shake the trees to drop their fruit – climb up and pick by hand to save your fruits. You may want to place some old blankets around the bottom of the trees so if a few ripe fruits do drop, they’ll be saved.
Don’t eat all of the abiu fruit the same day you harvest it. I have found that they taste even better a day or 2 after harvest if kept at room temperature. Itʻs a taste to die for.
Do you need to prune an Abiu tree?
You don’t need to heavily prune abiu trees, but it’s a good idea to prune young trees to ensure the center- leader branch doesn’t take over. Pruning encourages the tree to spread out and grow more branches, which means more fruit, later on.
I also recommend pruning an abiu tree to keep it at a moderate height of 12-15 feet. They can grow much taller, of course, but because the fruits are so delicate you want to be able to pick them before they drop to the ground.
You may find the biggest pests to your abiu fruit are birds, coming to enjoy the fruit before you get a chance! The easiest remedy is to place netting around your trees, and give only humans access to the delicious fruits. Keeping trees under 20 feet in height makes this task easier.
Abiu fruits are delicious and easy to grow in your own fruit forest. These trees love warm weather and sunlight and don’t require a great deal of management, making them a perfect addition to to the lower tree layer of the food forest on your off grid homestead.
Homesteadinhawaii.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.