South American native. Hardiest of so-called subtropical fruits. Normally a large multistemmed plant; reaches 1825 ft. with equal spread if not pruned or killed back by frosts. Can take almost any amount of training or pruning to shape as espalier, screen, hedge, or small tree (late spring is the best time to prune). Oval, 2- to 3-in.-long leaves are glossy green above, silvery white beneath. Blooms in spring, bearing unusual inch-wide flowers with big central tufts of red stamens and four fleshy white petals tinged purplish on inside; blossoms attract bees and birds. Flowers are edible and can be added to fruit salads or used for jams and jellies. Plant is drought tolerant, but give it regular water for best fruiting.
Fruit ripens 4 to 512 months after flowering in the Tropical South, 5 to 7 months after bloom in Lower and Coastal South. Oval, grayish green, 1- to 4-in.-long fruit has soft, sweet to bland pulp with flavor that is somewhat like pineapple. The best way to harvest is to wait until first fruit drops, then spread a tarp underneath and give the tree a shake. Repeat every few days. Fruit is sometimes sold in markets.
Improved selections 'Apollo', 'Coolidge', 'Mammoth', 'Nazemetz', and 'Trask' are self-fruitful, although cross-pollination will produce a better crop. Single plants of seedlings or other named selections may need cross-pollination.