I have a beautiful old feijoa tree in my yard, and every spring it attracts flocks of starlings that dance through its leaves. The starlings are hungry for the hundreds of candy red flowers that appear before the fruits set in late summer.
I liken these flowers to nature’s litter — swaying in the breeze, dropping from the tree, and covering the ground with soft, fragrant petals that brighten up the brown bark mulch.
Feijoa flowers are one of my favorite edible flowers. A lot of flowers are actually edible, but whether or not they’re palatable (on their own, not just as an accent) is a different story. Feijoa flowers are unusual in that they’re succulent and sweet like marshmallows, with hints of the pineapple/kiwi/mint flavor inherent in feijoa fruits. I’ll often scatter a few flowers over a salad when I’m feeling fancy, or throw some to my chickens with the rest of their greens.
The flowers also feed the hummingbirds, butterflies, scrub jays, and squirrels that frequent the garden each day. With the onslaught of fruits that I get in the fall — thanks to prolific pollination by the birds and the bees — sometimes I wish they’d eat a little more!
The flowers have fleshy white petals with showy scarlet stamens; they remind me a bit of fuchsia flowers. Pulled apart, the petals look like sea shells with their lightly textured exterior and rosy red interior.
Botanically, feijoa (Acca sellowiana) is an evergreen shrub from the Myrtaceae family that can be espaliered or trained into a hedge, but mine has slowly grown into a large tree with a single trunk. It’s a few decades old and has grown to bear resemblance to an olive tree (very Mediterranean looking) with its gnarled trunk, silvery green leaves, and egg-shaped fruits.
It’s incredibly drought-tolerant as well, since the only water my feijoa receives is from natural rainfall… and we haven’t had too much of that lately. If you live in a warm climate (zones 8 and up) and want a low-maintenance fruit tree that’s also bird- and bee-friendly, a feijoa is a great pick!