HERE IN HAWAII
Weed FruitOn the mainland people carefully tend house-plants, such as tradescantia and philodendron, that – they are surprised to learn – are wild weeds in Hawaii. But some tropical fruits are weeds here, too.Guava is a real pest, especially the smaller “strawberry guava” known as waiawi (though colloquially pronounced “vy-vee”). Both were introduced in the 19th century, but escaped cultivation. Ripe fruit falls quickly, drawing not only flies but birds, pigs, and rats that transport the seeds. The wood is incredibly hard, and the saplings form impenetrable thickets.
But – truth to tell – the fruit are delicious. Hawaii’s farmers’ markets and fruit-stands rarely offer them. But you may not need to buy them, if you’re adventurous. They grow almost everywhere on the Big Island, especially in wetter places. You mustn’t pick from someone’s yard, of course, but neither should you eat fruit that’s already on the ground. The best way to get guava or waiawi is to shake a tree and catch what falls; or do as local folks do, and use a long picking-stick with a basket on the end.Guavas are about the same size and color as lemons outside, though pink inside. Waiawi can be either red or yellow, but their insides are white. The seeds, though edible, are usually separated from pulp and juice with a ricer, or a blender at low speed. Waiawi is the greater pest, but more flavorful; Caribbean islanders call it “guavaberry,” and use it for jams, jellies and liqueurs.