Jaboticaba (botanical name Myrciaria cauliflora) is a purple-black fruit that appears in plum-sized bunches directly around the main branches and the stem of the tree. The appearance of jaboticaba fruits is similar to that of grapes and they also taste like grapes. The fruits have a sweet flavour with an appealing sub-acid relish. However, compared to grapes, the skin of jaboticaba is tougher and this helps in handling as well as storing them effectively.
The leaves of jaboticaba trees are very simple, and appear opposite to each other on the branch. Each leaf measures anything between 1 inch to 4 inches in length and 0.5 inch to 0.75 inches wide and its shape may vary from lanceolate to elliptical. These trees produce flowers that are small, cauliflorous, staminous and their color may vary from white to almost white. When we say that the flowers are cauliflorous it denotes that they appear directly on the bark or from beneath the bark the length of the trunk, branches and limbs. Jaboticaba trees blossom a number of times every year, mostly towards the end of winter and spring.
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The jaboticaba fruit is basically a berry. Unlike several other fruit-bearing trees in the tropical regions, this plant does not produce fruits on new growths. The grape-like, spherical fruits are either produced singly or in compact clusters on the trees and branches right from the ground upwards. The unripe jaboticaba fruits are green hued and their color changes to deep maroon-purple to nearly black when they are fully mature. The fruits develop very rapidly, usually within 20 days to 25 days from the flower becoming completely mature. Usually, these berry-like fruits measure about 1 inch across, but may also vary between 1/2 inch and 1 1/4 inches in diameter. These edible berries enclose a whitish, jellylike pulp with one to five ovoid flattened seeds. The fruits have a resinous quality, which many find delectable, while there are others who say that it is unpleasant. The skin of jaboticaba berries has a somewhat turpentine essence and are often compared to Muscadine grape, which are also thick-skinned. This fruit can be consumed fresh out of the hand, or used to prepare jellies and jams. Some people also use the jaboticaba berries to make wine.
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After the fruits are picked, their flavour is similar to guava on the first day. On the second day, the flavour changes and it is more like mangosteen. The fruit's flavour is similar to that of lychee on the third day, like passion fruit on the fourth day, similar to a sweetsop fruit on the fifth day and it tastes like a grape fruit between the sixth day and eighth day. However, the fruit tastes best on the ninth day after picking. It becomes completely ripe and tastes sweet, while its aroma is also pleasing.
The jaboticaba contains elevated levels of antioxidants and phenolic compounds. As most of us are aware, free radicals released due to cellular metabolism in our body cause oxidative stress to the cells and it is primarily responsible for premature ageing as well as several serious health conditions, including various forms of cancer. Antioxidants are effective in neutralizing the free radicals and also put off any damage to the cells. Currently, various studies are underway to examine the antioxidant attributes of jaboticaba.
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Since jaboticaba is a very potent antioxidant, consumption of this fruit helps to put off premature aging and also in thwarting the emergence of age-related signs such as dark spots, fine lines and wrinkles. This exotic fruit contains vital nutrients, particularly in the peel. In fact, it has been found that the peel of jaboticaba is highly beneficial for our skin. Findings of several studies have shown that this fruit is useful in invigorating as well as keeping the skin hydrated. At the same time, regular consumption of jaboticaba promotes collagen production. Collagen is important for augmenting the suppleness and elasticity of the skin. The jellylike pulp of jaboticaba encloses vitamin B3 (also referred to as niacin), which sustains enzymes that encourage cell growth. In addition, this fruit also possesses anti-microbial and detoxifying properties. As a result, it is often used for treating acne. Aside these, jaboticaba fruits are also used for preparing skin care formulations that are applied topically. You can blend jaboticaba pulp and oatmeal and add honey to the mixture to prepare an effective home-made facial scrub.
The various nutrients present in jaboticaba help to encourage a healthy as well as lustrous hair growth. At the same time, they help in putting off hair loss. A variety of formulations prepared with jaboticaba extract for hair care are commercially available in the market these days.
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As jaboticaba is low in calories and fat content, it is an excellent food for including in the diet of people aspiring to lose surplus weight. In addition, the peel of the fruit contains loads of dietary fiber, which not only regulates the appetite, but also stops one from eating excessively. It helps to prevent craving for food by making one feel fuller for a prolonged period.
These days, jaboticaba is a popular food owing to its potent antioxidant effects. The antioxidant effects of this fruit are attributed to the presence of phenolic compounds such as anthocyanins and several others. Anthocyanins not only serve as powerful antioxidants, but also contain anti-inflammatory as well as anti-carcinogenic attributes. These antioxidants are useful in neutralizing the detrimental free radicals, which cause cell damage, in addition to DNA mutations.
It has been found that jaboticaba also possesses potent astringent properties. Consumption of this fruit on a regular basis helps to clear the bronchial airways and, therefore, it is considered to be an excellent remedy for respiratory conditions like asthma. Apart from this, the astringent action of this fruit also makes it useful for curing diarrhea as well as inflamed tonsillitis.
Jaboticaba contains high levels of dietary fiber. As a result, consumption of this fruit helps in normalizing bowel movements, thereby preventing constipation. Other nutrients contained by this fruit facilitate digestion, while detoxifying and cleansing the intestines.
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Several studies have shown that diets containing high levels of polyphenols or anthocyanins can help in diminishing the chances of developing cardiovascular diseases. This is achieved by controlling metabolism of lipids. A study undertaken on obese rats corroborated the fact that such diets can help in lowering the levels of triglycerides and total serum cholesterol in the blood stream. At the same time, polyphenols present in jaboticaba also increase the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also referred to as "good cholesterol", while lowering the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad cholesterol". The dietary fiber in jaboticaba is responsible for the fruit's ability to lower the LDL levels.
Findings of a number of studies undertaken on mice have shown that the peel of jaboticaba is useful in bringing down the elevated levels of glucose in the bloodstream and, therefore, they suggest that consuming this fruit on a regular basis will help in putting off type 2 diabetes. As the calorie content of jaboticaba is low and it encloses lots of dietary fiber, it is always beneficial as well as healthy to include this fruit in the diet of people suffering from diabetes. Studies undertaken on animals have also found that the jaboticaba peel possesses anti-obesity properties and, hence, it beneficial for those struggling to lose weight.
Jaboticaba contains rich amounts of essential minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium, which makes this fruit highly beneficial for the health of our teeth and bones. Aside from strengthening our bones, these minerals help to put off conditions such as osteoporosis.
The original habitat of jaboticaba is in the coastal hilly regions and forests in southern Brazil. In addition, this species is also found in neighbouring countries like Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and the northern regions of Argentina. When grown in conditions prevailing in the native habitat of the species, jaboticaba trees remain inundated for many weeks quite often, but this does not cause any harm to the trees. Consequently, jaboticaba trees are said to be water tolerant. Over the years, jaboticaba has been naturalized in South Florida, where it grows as well as produces copious amounts of fruits. While jaboticaba has an excellent potential for being grown in the form of a dooryard crop, these trees are seldom found in gardens in Florida.
Jaboticaba can be described as a very big shrub or an undersized evergreen tree. Normally, jaboticaba trees have a single trunk and its branches are quite near the ground. Nevertheless, sometimes you can also find jaboticaba trees having multiple trunks. These trees have numerous branches that grow in an upward angle and they usually form a thick, vase-like or rounded, balanced crown. The bark of jaboticaba tree has a reddish brown color and when it is removed, it exposes the smooth, multi-hued inner bark, whose color may vary from cream to grey. The inner bark of jaboticaba is akin to that of guava.
Usually, jaboticaba trees are propagated from their seeds. It takes roughly 30 days for the jaboticaba seeds to germinate. Alternatively, jaboticaba trees may also be successfully propagated from air-layering as well as rooted cuttings.
It may take about eight years for a jaboticaba plant to mature and bear fruits. While these trees produce fruit in all seasons, they produce the maximum fruits during the period between the end of March and April. Each tree bears several hundred fruits during this period. In fact, a mature jaboticaba tree can produce about 100 pounds of fruits every season. However, the yield is not always steady and it may be different every year. Ideally, jaboticaba fruits ought to be harvested just a few days after they ripen. Ripened jaboticaba fruits have a very shot shelf life and they start decomposing in just two days when stored at room temperature.