The Dovyalis

by Gene Joyner, Extension Agent I
IFAS Palm Beach County Cooperative Extension Service

The Dovyalis, commonly called "Tropical Apricot" is a large, spreading shrub that grows 18 to 20 feet with about the same width. It usually has long, drooping branches with 3-4 inch green leaves. Some types of Dovyalis have large, conspicuous thorns while others are completely thornless. The one most commonly grown is a sweet variety, a natural hybrid that developed between Dovyalis abyssinica and Dovyalis hebecarpa.

Fruits are produced during much of the warm season at various intervals and are about 1-1/4 - 1-1/2 inches across, brownish-red or yellow at maturity with tiny white spots in many varieties. The flesh is yellow-orange, very soft with a distinctive apricot flavor. Fruits are commonly eaten fresh or used for various types of jellies, jams, pies and drinks. The Dovyalis can be made into an excellent wine.

Shrubs are propagated by airlayering or by taking cuttings from the better flavored varieties. Usually, when airlayered, fruiting can be expected in the same year, while cuttings usually take about a year to fruit. Most Dovyalis are widely adapted to a extensive range of soil conditions, but get a lot of nutrient deficiencies on highly alkaline soil. Dovyalis should be fertilized once every 2-3 months with a good-quality, complete fertilizer. On alkaline soils, make sure that additional minor elements are supplied to keep trees normal in appearance. Most Dovyalis do not need a lot of heavy watering, but will benefit from mulching to keep their roots moist during the dry season. Most Dovyalis grow at a rate of 3-4 feet a year and can be grown as a hedge if desired, although more often they are kept as a large specimen shrub.

Although relatively hardy, Dovyalis will freeze at 26° F, but if cut back to undamaged wood they will recover quickly. Most varieties of Dovyalis carried in nurseries are the sweet varieties, however, occasionally some will be very tart, because they might have been raised from seed.

If you have friends that have sweet varieties, try to get cuttings or airlayers to be sure of getting good quality fruit.

There are few pests that bother Dovyalis. Occasionally, birds might eat the fruit, but usually they will only take a few. Aphids are sometimes found on new growth but are usually not severe enough for spraying. Dovyalis is a very good shrub for areas where you want a large screening affect, and it is often used as an informal hedge along property lines or to block undesirable views.


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