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Article - for release the week of
Dan Culbert - Extension Horticulture Agent
Last week an office visitor
asked us to identify of a bunch of trees that appeared to be winning the weed
war with Brazilian Pepper trees. She
showed me some photos that were taken on her home site near the
Lake, and was enjoying the taste of the fruit of this tree. I
was worried that she may have been eating a fruit that may not have been edible
- she got my immediate attention.
This clump of Java Plums grows very close to Lake Okeechobee. Photo: Jodie Everett
Once cut to a stump, these Jambolans have resprouted into 20 foot tall trees that will break apart in a good windstorm.
A full sized Java Plum clump in a vacant lot here in Okeechobee. Photos (left and above) Dan Culbert, UF/IFAS
A few months back, I was asked
to name this same plant found growing on a vacant city lot here in town. And a few days ago, I noted that someone left a stump that has since
resprouted into a 20 foot tree. This
same species was growing in the back yard of my old West
Palm Beach home.
I knew it was Syzygium
soon as I saw her photos.
The plant is called Java Plum, a
member of the Myrtle family that was introduced to the
This tree is also sometimes
called Jambolan, and is native to the Indian sub-continent.
It has spread throughout the world and has made some lasting impressions
on the vegetation of
Flowers of the Java Plum. Photo: Anne Murray, UF/IFAS
Foliage and fruit of the Jambolan. Photo Dan Culbert, UF/IFAS
This tree is most often multi-trunked in habit. Photo: Dan Culbert, UF/IFAS
Fragrant flowers are white wispy
bottlebrush-like structures that appear from the spring through the summer.
They give rise to clusters of plum-purple juicy fruit that measure about
the size and shape as a jumbo olive, but not quite as plump.
Inside the skin of the fruit, the flesh is white.
It usually contains only one seed. The
juice from the skin is capable of staining your hands, sidewalks, car finishes,
and so on. In other words, this is
not a good plant to have where its mess will drop in the landscape.
The fruit is edible, but will
pucker your mouth if it is not fully ripe. It
is enjoyed as a fresh fruit by many people living in
southern Asian countries, and can be made into preserves or wines. There
are many reputed medicinal values to almost all parts of this tree – and an
internet search may provide a number of uses and sources.
you need additional information on the Java
Jambul (Syzygium cumini). Wikipedia, 5 February 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syzygium_cumini
K & Burks, K. Identification
& Biology of Non-Native Plants in
Morton, J. “Jambolan”. In: Fruits of Warm Climates, p. 375–378. Winterville: NC: Creative Resource Systems, Inc. 1987.http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/jambolan.html
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