SCIENTIFIC NAME: Syzygium malaccense
FAMILY: Myrtaceae

The Malay-apple (Syzygium malaccense) is a medium-sized, upright, ornamental tree with large, dark-green, glossy leaves and beautiful crimson flowers that are followed by equally attractive fruit. Although this handsome tree is widely distributed throughout the tropics, it is seldom seen growing in South Florida, probably because of its tenderness to cold.

In Hawaii, the Malay-apple was introduced during the early Polynesian migrations, and is usually only found growing there today in the damp, overcast, interior mountain valleys. These Pacific Islands appropriately refer to it as a "Mountain-Apple", and during the summer fruiting season these can be bought at roadside stands. In Jamaica and other islands of the British West Indies, it is known as the "Otaheite apple". A white variation of this normally red fruit grows in Tahiti.

In tropical areas, the tree has been used for windbreaks, to landscape parks and for road side plantings. Florida-grown Malay apple trees have been observed to bear two crops annually, one in the fall or winter and another in the spring. The beautiful, glossy, red to dark purple-colored fruit are pear-shaped, three to four inches in length and usually contain a single polyembryonic seed surrounded by a crisp, white flesh. Two varieties that have been grown in Florida are the "Kingston", whose large fruit can run over a half-pound, and the Thai "Mameau" with leaves that have reached 16 inches in length.

The tree prefers a rich, moist soil in a warm location for optimum growth and does well in both partial shade or full sunlight, Related species being grown in South Florida are the rose apple (S. jambos), wax jambu (S. javanicum), Water rose-apple (S. aqueum) and the jambolan plum (S. cuminii).

Wm F. Whitman

DATE: September 1980

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