Get to know the Feijoa

feijoa tasting

Not all feijoas are created equal and with all the new varieties on the market, saying it tastes like a feijoa is like saying a wine tastes like grapes. The chances are if you think you can’t stand feijoas you just haven’t met the right one yet. We tasted 8 feijoas on the trot. Don’t try this at home. Marks were awarded out of 5 for grittiness, astringency, sweetness, perfume and an overall score. Here are the edited highlights:

Variety & Season Judges’ Comments

Marks out of 5

Unique (early) Sorry, we found “Unique” a bit average, lacking any definite flavour or aroma. The fruit does ripen early.


Apollo (early) For such a giant of a tree, the fruit lacked true feijoa grit and astringency. Inside its rough skin “Apollo” is just a big old sweetie.


Wiki Tu (mid-late) This diminutive tree packs a huge flavour punch in its fruit. Meaty, sharp, gritty, astringent and sweet, all in perfect balance with a lovely fragrance to boot. Outstanding.


Kaiteri (early) A smooth, mango, guava flavoured fruit. Luscious, very sweet, massive fruit with not a trace of grit or tang. A model modern fruit, “NZ’s next top Feijoa”. If you don’t like feijoas try “Kaiteri”.


Anatoki (early) Smooth skin, smooth flesh, “Anatoki’s” lack of grit pulled it down the rankings and perhaps deserves a recount. Not too sweet with a lovely tangy sharpness. My personal favourite.


Opal Star (late) Another late ripening variety is topping the charts. “Opal Star” had a big, very sharp flavour with medium sweetness and grit. Like “Wiki Tu” it is the meaty Beefsteak of the Feijoa world.


Pounamu (early) If there were a reality show called Extreme Feijoa “Pounamu” would win. Huge flavours but the extreme sweetness of this fruit led to a lack of balance in our opinion. Mind you, it was our 7th, and we weren’t spitting them out.


Kakapo (mid) Another modern sweetie,“Kakapo” is one for the kids with a medium level of grit and tang but loads of sweetness.


feijoa anatoki
(Unique bottom right)
Judges Note: To rate anything is to invite debate so the judges acknowledge that factors such as thinning, feeding, pruning and climate can alter the sugar levels and flavours of varieties. The judges also acknowledge a slight bias for old school feijoa flavours.

Most of our modern feijoa varieties are the handiwork of Motueka based plant breeder Roy Hart. Here are ten things I learned about feijoas while we sat on his porch talking:

  1. Feijoas are native to Brazil and Argentina but have grown in NZ since the early 1900’s
  2. The petals are edible, and birds eat them, pollinating the flowers in the process.
  3. That classic feijoa grittiness disappears when you bottle them
  4. Roys own favourite is Pounamu, but he also rates Anatoki (my favourite)
  5. Even “self-fertile” varieties set much better quality fruit with another variety planted nearby for pollination
  6. Always buy cutting grown or grafted trees as seedling trees don’t produce fruit true to label
  7. They start fruiting in their 2nd year, and the crop ripens late February in the North through to late May in the South.
  8. The tree can withstand -10C frosts; late spring frosts won’t damage flowers and early autumn frosts only damage ripe fruit.
  9. They take hard pruning very well and can be relocated.
  10. They are shallow rooted trees that love mulch and a good rich feed of compost and manure each spring.


  1. Do you know if any of these varieties are more resistant to guava moth?

    1. No, this little nasty only showed up in our fruit last season. But I have a theory – I think its more prevalent in the thinner-skinned varieties – do you know if the caterpillars eat their way in or does the moth lay the eggs at flowering stage? I haven’t noticed any in my tough old apollo feijoas. They have a hard leathery skin.

  2. Jonathan Mitchell

    I recently had Feijoas in Londo after a long time away from NZ they were not realy that ripe but still delious. My dream was broken when i found out they had come from Columbia.

    1. Yes – what next? Kiwifruit from Italy? We’re pretty good at claiming fruit as kiwi though eh.

  3. Yolande Ruiters

    We recently bought a property that was uninhabited for over a year and the previous owner was frail, so the much loved garden went became neglected. The feijoa, when we moved in started flowering beautifully with many blooms, but they didn’t result in fruit. We have no idea what to do. Thus far I have added compost and mulch. Weeds were overgrown under the tree, so I pulled them all. I’ve heard that putting an apple (cut in half) will help bring birds to pollinate the tree. Do you have any more advice? I have no idea what variety it is and we even doubted it’s a feijoa.

    1. Hi Yolande, last season was a weird one with lots of rain disrupting pollination of many fruits so don’t despair. Feijoas are pollinated by birds and if there is another feijoa within flying distance your tree will benefit. You are on the right track with compost and mulch – I would pass judgment next autumn and if still no fruit – plant another tree nearby.

      1. Yolande Ruiters

        Hi Heather, thank you for your response you myth question about our feijoa!
        I’ll try to attract more birds to pollinate it.

  4. I have an OLD Feijoa (over 30 years). The property was totally over grown and we found the tree under the overgrowth. It had a barrel around the base and half laying over. Left it after uncovering it and watered etc. Next season I pruned it back to the new growth coming from near the base and pruned off the half dead trunk. But there were no flowers or fruit the last two years. It looks really healthy and bushing up nicely. I have two other varieties to plant beside it this winter but wonder if the old tree would of been shooting from beneath a graft.

    1. No Jan, they’re not grafted. It will love the company and I’d suprised if you don’t get fruit from it this coming season. They’re amazingly resilient and love a good prune.

  5. I write from Spain where I harvested feijoas and wanted to get these new varieties from New Zealand to plant them on my farm. I would appreciate if there is a nursery in Europe where I could buy their address. a cordial greeting

    1. Hello Jose, I’m sorry I don’t know of a nursery in Europe selling the NZ varieties but good to know that you are growing feijoas in Spain. Thank you for your comment.

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