Guam’s Apple Trees – Are There Any Left?

My mother, Joyce Martratt, wrote an interesting article on the manzana ( Chinese Jujube) or the apple that was commonly found on Guam. I remember eating this fruit while growing up on the island. I would pick it wild in the jungles on the island. Apparently there is some concern that they may be extinct on Guam.

“Origin:The jujube originated in China where they have been cultivated for more than 4,000 years and where there are over 400 cultivars. The plants traveled beyond Asia centuries ago and today are grown to some extent in Russia, northern Africa, southern Europe, the Middle East and the southwestern United States. Jujube seedlings, inferior to the Chinese cultivars, were introduced into Europe at the beginning of the Christian era and carried to the U. S. in 1837. It wasn’t until 1908 that improved Chinese selections were introduced by the USDA.”  (







Reprinted from The Pacific Edge August 29, 2008

Ask Joyce: Does Guam still have apple trees?


You know, I have not seen any apple trees. Guam suffered super typhoons a few years back, and many of our fruit trees were destroyed.


I remember seeing apple trees before I left Guam a few years back. The fruits are just like apples, except these were the size of a quarter. These apples were actually very good. The trees are usually about seven to 10 feet high. The fruits show ripening when the smooth skin begins to reddish-yellow. The taste was sweet but tart.


This type apple tree is found in China, Jamaica, Queensland, the West Indies, Jamaica, Indonesia, Philippines and quite a few other countries. It was introduced to Guam in 1850. This apple tree is from the family of the Ziziphus Jujuba Mill, Rhamnaceae or smooth-leaved Chinese jujube.

Each country that grows this tree has a different name. Guam and the Philippines call the fruit, “manzana,” meaning little apples.


The apples may be oval, round or oblong. The skin is smooth and the flesh is white, crisp, juicy and bittersweet. It can be compared to a crabapple. When the apples ripen into a burnt-orange or reddish-brown color, the meat is less crispy.


When the apples are overripe, the aroma is musky. The Chamorros have a name for the overripe apple, “mazana pao take,” which literally translates to “stinky apple.”


The people of the other countries found different parts of this apple tree very useful for medicinal purposes. The fruits are used on cuts and ulcers and stop nausea, vomiting and abdominal pains in pregnancy. This tree and its manzanas are effectively used in other parts of our world as medicine. On Guam, these trees were prevalent a few years back, but were destroyed by the major typhoons. Perhaps, if interested, the Department of Agriculture may be of help.



si Joyce I. Martratt

6 thoughts on “Guam’s Apple Trees – Are There Any Left?

  1. Hafa Adai Joyce, yes… the island still has the small apple trees around. There is a large and old tree behind the Bank of Guam in Harmon. During it’s season… the apples are all over the tree.. as well as on the ground. The apples from that tree are.. sweet..


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