New Zealand Cranberry (Myrtus ugni)


Myrtus ugni is known by several common names, including Chilean guava, murta, murtilla and Tas Myrtus Berry. In New Zealand it is being sold and marketed as the ‘NZ Cranberry’. It has a taste of a combination of strawberry, pineapple and apple.

The plant is a native to Chile and is a small evergreen shrub with small leathery leaves. It grows to a size of about 1.7m high and 1.5m wide and tolerates a wide range of soil conditions. Once established the plants do not mind drought conditions but watering during establishment is a good idea. A good thick mulch/compost is also appreciated. Some texts list the plant as being frost sensitive, others do not.

Growing Myrtus ugni

Propagation: Seedling tubes with plants 25cm tall are the best to plant. 1.5m (in row spacing), 2–3m between rows to allow access.
Plant density: approx 2000/ha
Yields/ha: 1kg of fruit per plant in Year 3. A 1kg increase per plant each year from Year 3 onwards. Final totals unknown.
First harvest: Some fruit in Year 2 but mainly Year 3 and onwards.
Crop protection: Some protection from birds may be necessary.
Soil type: Various.
Fertilisers: NPK fertiliser application could be used.
Pest/Diseases: Nothing obvious.
Harvesting: Hand harvest is the only option at this stage. One picker can pick approx 4kg per hour.
Marketing: No obvious market at this stage but has potential in the flavourings market both for yoghurt and ice cream. A lot of work will be needed to develop this.

Further Information

Australian Horticulture, July 2001 page 10

Wikipedia article