Belonging to the Myrtaceae family, the Myrciaria Cauliflora tree is commonly known as the Brazilian Grape tree or Jaboticaba, or Jabuticaba. This species, of the genus Myrciaria, is native to the states of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Goias, and Sao Paulo in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia. A small evergreen tree, the trunks are laden with flowers in spring. The fruits, purplish-black, are edible. They grow directly on the trunk giving the tree a unique appearance. The fruits can be eaten raw or prepared as jams, jellies, juices, liqueurs, or homemade vinegar.
Jabuticaba is derived from the Tupi word Jaboti or Jabuti (Tortoise) and Caba (place). It means ‘the place where tortoises are found’. The name also means ‘like turtle fat’ referring to the white pulp of the fruit.
The Myrciaria Cauliflora tree grows up to a height of 15 m (49.21 ft ) when pruning is not done. Its bark is smooth, flaking off in patches, having a grayish and an orange-brown color. The leaves remain salmon-pink during the younger stage, turning green as the tree matures. They are oval or elliptical, with a pointed tip, growing in an opposite pattern. It has a compact, fibrous root system making it suitable for growing in pots or transplanting.
The Myrciaria Cauliflora tree has white flowers that grow in a cauliflorous way, directly on the main trunk and branches. Its fruits, typically measuring 3-4 cm in diameter, resemble slip-skin grapes. The outer skin, purple, is thick and astringent. The pulp, sweet and gelatinous, is white or rosy-pink. The inner flesh of the fruit contains one to four large seeds embedded within, which vary in shape depending upon the species.
How long does it take to grow Myrciaria Cauliflora Bonsai Tree?
The Myrciaria Cauliflora tree is a slow-growing tree. It grows best in warm temperatures and bright light. When grown as a bonsai, it is an easy-to-care-for bonsai tree.
Before discussing how you can plant and grow your Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai, let us review the best conditions and requirements needed for the Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai tree care.
Position and lighting
The Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai tree needs warmth and sunlight for its flowering and fruiting. It develops slowly at low temperatures. The young plants need some sun protection but once matured, they can grow in full sunlight, resisting windy areas better. In colder regions, it should be placed indoors under grow lights. In very hot regions, during summer, it should be placed in a room with plenty of natural light and a partially shaded location like a bright window. The Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai tree can be kept indoors throughout the year. But during mid-spring to summer, it might be placed outside, grown in a semi-shaded area. During winter, it is best kept in a room with temperatures between 61 °F-75 °F (16 °C-23 °C) with 50% humidity.
The Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai tree cannot tolerate frost or freezes. It can tolerate low temperatures but if below 50 °F (10 °C), it must be protected from the cold. It is a tropical to sub-tropical plant. The Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai tree can tolerate mild, brief frosts but not below 26 °F (-3.33 °C). The ideal USDA hardiness zone is 9b through 11.
The Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai thrives in rich, moist, slightly acidic soil. However, it is widely adaptable, and with the necessary care, can grow satisfactorily on alkaline beach-sand types of soils, too. But it must be well-tended and irrigated. As a bonsai, use a bonsai soil or mix of loam, peat moss, and sand in a ratio of 1:2:2. It prefers soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. The Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai tree should be planted in soil without backfilling.
The soil around the tree should be mulched beyond the expanding roots, a foot or two. The mulched area must be kept free of grass and weeds. It transplants well from a container but might take up to 2 years to get established, requiring ample irrigation. During establishment, it should be irrigated 3 to 4 times a week. Once established, for maintaining good soil moisture and to prevent wilting, irrigation should be done when needed.
The Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai tree grows the strongest from spring to fall, with high water consumption. During summer, the root ball must be kept moist to prevent it from drying out completely. During winter, the surface of the soil should be allowed to get dry before watering. Lime water with a neutral or slightly acidic pH value is best. Summer requires 3 to 4 times of watering per week, with a little less for the rest of the year. The Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai prefers well-drained soil. So, placing a plate or container under the pot can cause partial rot of the root system. Over-watering can also lead to root rot, eventually killing the tree.
The Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai tree grows vigorously during its growing stage. It must be fed every month with a solid organic fertilizer, rich in Phosphorus and micro-nutrients. The occasional ‘burned tips’ are often caused due to a lack of micro-nutrients. After repotting, fertilizing must be done after a month. The Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai is a very hungry tree. Its feedings must never be skipped. Using chemical fertilizers is not recommended as the root system is shallow. In soils with a high pH value, special attention is required to provide proper nutrition. Iron deficiency can be corrected by applying chelated iron. It does not tolerate salt. Sick trees must be allowed to start recovery before fertilizing.
As a bonsai, The Myrciaria Cauliflora tree is an attractive species that can be styled in a variety of styles and shapes. They can be styled as upright, literary, broom style, or multi-stemmed.
How to plant and grow Myrciaria Cauliflora Bonsai
The best seasons to grow the Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai trees are spring and summer.
Myrciaria Cauliflora trees are most commonly propagated from seeds. A small seedling takes approximately 2 years to develop. But the seedlings are slow in maturing and hardly endure the transplanting and trimming required for a bonsai. Air-layering a branch bearing fruit is a successful method of propagating as a bonsai. They can also be grown from cuttings.
Pruning and wiring
Pruning is the key to maintaining the Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai. It gives the required shape making the tree more beautiful. The shoots and twigs must be trimmed several times a year, except during winter. Branch pruning is best to do during spring and summer. The roots must be checked annually, but they will hardly need pruning yearly. Towards the end of winter, it requires drastic pruning. Formation pruning should be done at this time when sap flow is low. Dead leaves should be removed and suckers and shoots competing with the larger branches must be eliminated.
The Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai is a slow responder when the roots are hard pruned. During its growth phase, it should not be held or pruned as it hinders the process of fertilizing the trunk. When pruning other species of bonsai, the main focus is on pruning the branches without damaging the flowering. In the case of Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai, it does not matter as the flowers directly bloom on the branches and the trunks.
The Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai can be wired but care must be taken to remove the wire in time to prevent scarring of the smooth bark. Guy wires should be used whenever possible. Once the basic shape of the bonsai is established, it can be maintained mostly by trimming.
The second important step in maintaining a Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai tree is transplantation. The roots are very shallow and grow horizontally. During transplantation, care must be taken to not remove more than half of the roots.
Repotting should be done every 2 years, in early spring with moisture-retaining but well-draining soil. As it prefers slightly acidic soil, azalea soil is a good choice. When repotting a Myrciaria bonsai, do not trim the roots.
Depending upon the care provided and the environmental conditions, the Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai tree can flower up to 3 times a year. The time taken from the start of flowering till the fruits ripen is usually 30 days. The tree can take 4 to 8 years to flower, depending on its variety. If the Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai tree is not flowering, it might be that it isn’t old enough. Not being fed properly or being grown indoors also affects its flowering.
How to care for your Myrciaria Cauliflora Bonsai
A tropical to sub-tropical plant, the Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai tree is moderately drought tolerant. It is necessary to water the plant frequently, especially in summer. It can tolerate both full sun and full shade. The Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai tree is not frost-hardy. It should not be grown in coastal areas as it is seen to suffer.
Pests and diseases
The Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai tree is not susceptible to many pests or diseases. Aphids, scales, spider mites, or nematodes might pose occasional problems. Aphids love the new growth. Using a specific insecticide will get rid of them. Improving the tree’s living conditions will ensure a healthy plant. The Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai is vulnerable to many fungal diseases like rust, especially during bloom when a lot of rain occurs. Other fungal diseases include canker, dieback, and fruit rot. Spraying a fungicide will help in such cases.
The Myrciaria Cauliflora bonsai tree is greatly favored as a bonsai due to its small leaves, slow growth, and irregular growth pattern. It makes for a graceful and fruiting bonsai.