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Monday, May 15, 2017

The Malabar Plum - 'Syzygium Jambos' - fam: Myrtaceae

Native to the East Indies, the Syzygium Jambos tree has glossy narrow leaves, and dark red new growth. The yellow fruit is 'rose petal' flavoured, and in a class of its own for taste. The tree is virtually never without fruit or flowers, fruiting for about 6 months of the year. The white fluffy flowers are spectacular and attract many bees and birds with their fragrance. 1

The writer has two of these trees in his front yard, and can attest to the attraction of bees and birds to its spindly, fluffy flowers - and fruit. Having never come across these before moving to this area of NSW, I wondered what they were. Instead of wasting time on a random search on my laptop, I proceeded to the local nursery, with a sample of the fruit, and leaves. Within 5 minutes, I was the proud owner of two 'Syzygium jambos' trees - and delighted with the flavour from the (carefully tested) fruit.

The edible fruit of Syzygium jambos, is shaped like some kinds of guava; in fact, the fruit is so like the guava in appearance that people unfamiliar with it may mistake it for a guava on sight. However, the fragrance, flavour and texture are different, and instead of containing dozens of small, hard seeds set in a jelly-like tissue, as a guava does, the fruit of Syzygium jambos usually contains one or two large, unarmoured seeds about 1 cm in diameter, lying loose in a slightly fluffy cavity when ripe. Shaking a fruit to feel whether the seeds rattle, gives some indication whether it is ripe. The skin is thin and waxy. The flowers are described by some as fragrant, though this appears to be a variable attribute. The ripe fruit, however, has a strong, pleasant floral bouquet, hence such common names as "Rose apple" and "pomarrosa". 2 In fact, if it doesn't rattle with a seed, don't eat it!

Syzygium jambos has several common names, reflecting the large number of regions in which it occurs as a garden, or fruit tree, or as an invader. The names include Malabar Plum (Sydney NSW), Champakka, Mountain Apple (champoo, chom pu, or chom-phu). Terms like 'plum rose', 'water apple', 'Cloud apple', 'Wax apple', 'Malay apple', 'Jambrosade', 'Pomarrosa', or the English equivalent, 'Rose Apple'. Several of these names also are applied to other species of Syzygium, while 'Jambu' can also mean a Guava. 2

REFERENCES: Daleys Fruit Tree Nursery 1 Wikipedia 2


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