Scientific name: Syzygium cumini
Family name: Myrtaceae
Java Plum trees in Taman Tugu
The Java Plum tree is an indigenous rainforest tree that are amongst the 4,100 trees added to the Taman Tugu site, selected in collaboration with Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (“FRIM”) and Malaysian Nature Society (“MNS”). It is one of the trees added to the site as is attracts various species of birds and butterflies. The fruits attract birds, squirrels, monkeys and feral pigs.
This fairly fast-growing tree has a dense crown and reaches its full size in 40 years, at about 10-15m tall, sometimes reaching 35m. This tree typically forks into multiple trunks at around 0.9-1.5m near the ground. The mature leaves are glossy dark green with yellow mid-rib, young leaves pinkish, scented like turpentine. The flowers are small, produced in powderpuff inflorescences, fragrant, aging from creamy-white to rose-pink before dropping off. The fruit formation occurs around 32 days after flowering. The fruits are fleshy, obong berries, ripening from green to purplish-red to shiny purplish-black.
The fruits are edible, can be eaten raw or made into juice, sauces, jams and preserves. The fermented fruits made into wine or vinegar. The fruits are high in vitamins A and C. The fruits taste ranges from astringent sour to fairly sweet. The flowers are a good source of nectar and used to make good quality honey. Many parts of plant are used as remedies in traditional medicine. The leaves and bark are used against diarrhoea, dysentery, digestive ailments, and fever. The leaves, bark, flowers, fruits, and seeds are reported to be effective in treating diabetes. The leaves and bark are used to reduce blood pressure and treat bleeding gums. The branches are used to whiten the teeth. A coffee-like beverage is made from the dried and ground up seeds. The bark yields brown dye and tannin used in tanning leather and preserve fishing nets. The wood is strong and water-resistant, used to make railway sleepers and furniture. The trees are also planted as wind-breakers.
This ancient fruit crop, cultivated for over 2,500 years n India, is regarded as sacred to Buddhists and Hindus, and commonly planted in temple compounds. The leaves and fruits are used in religious worship. Many Hindus called the plant the “fruit of the gods” because Lord Rama is said to have subsisted on the fruit in the forest for 15 years during his exile from Ayodhya.
These tropical, sub-tropical/monsoonal trees are found in most tropical and subtropical forest habitats, ranging from evergreen broadleaved to deciduous and coniferous, from wet to fairly dry areas, near the coast, and even in swamps. These trees are native to Malaysia, Indonesia, China, India and tropical eastern Africa.