Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Syzygium cumini
(black plum)

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Datasheet

Syzygium cumini (black plum)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 12 October 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Syzygium cumini
  • Preferred Common Name
  • black plum
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • S. cumini is a fast-growing tropical and sub-tropical tree preferring moist, riverine habitats, that is valued for its fruit, timber and as an ornamental and as such has been widely introduced from its native S...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
TitleTree habit
Caption
Copyright©K.M. Siddiqui
Tree habit©K.M. Siddiqui
Jambolan (S. cumini) fruits on branch, Mahé, Seychelles.
TitleFruits
CaptionJambolan (S. cumini) fruits on branch, Mahé, Seychelles.
CopyrightDavid J. Greathead
Jambolan (S. cumini) fruits on branch, Mahé, Seychelles.
FruitsJambolan (S. cumini) fruits on branch, Mahé, Seychelles.David J. Greathead
TitleFoliage
Caption
Copyright©K.M. Siddiqui
Foliage©K.M. Siddiqui
TitleTwig with leaves
Caption
Copyright©K.M. Siddiqui
Twig with leaves©K.M. Siddiqui
1. flowering branch
2. branchlet with fruits
TitleLine artwork
Caption1. flowering branch 2. branchlet with fruits
CopyrightPROSEA Foundation
1. flowering branch
2. branchlet with fruits
Line artwork1. flowering branch 2. branchlet with fruitsPROSEA Foundation

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Syzygium cumini (L.) Skeels

Preferred Common Name

  • black plum

Other Scientific Names

  • Calyptranthes jambolana Willd.
  • Eugenia cumini (L.) Druce
  • Eugenia djouat Perr.
  • Eugenia jambolana Lam.
  • Myrtus cumini L.
  • Syzygium jambolana Lam.
  • Syzygium jambolanum DC.

International Common Names

  • English: black plum tree; Indian blackberry; jambolan; jambolan; jamun; java plum; Java plumtree; Malabar plum; Portuguese plum
  • Spanish: Ciruelo de Java; Ciruelo jambolan; guayabo pesgua; yambolana
  • French: faux pistachier; Jamblon; jambolanier; jamélongue; jamelonguier; jamelonier
  • Portuguese: jamelao

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: jaláo; jambo; jambol; jambolao; jambolão; jambuláo; jamelao; jameláo
  • Cambodia: pring bai; pring das krebey
  • Cook Islands: kaika; ka'ika; paramu; pisat; pistaita; pistati; pitati
  • Fiji: kavika ni India
  • French Polynesia: pistas
  • Germany: Jambolanapflaumenbaum; Wachsjambuse
  • India: jam; jaman; jambo; jambu; jambudi; jambul; jambura; jamni; jamo; jamu; jamuk; kudijamu; naga; nagai; nairul; nairuri; narala; nareyr; nasedu; nava; naval; navvel; nawar; neeram; neerlu; neredam; neredu; nerlu; nerula; phalani; phalinda; pharenda; phaunda; sambal
  • Indonesia: jamblang; juwet
  • Indonesia/Java: djoowet; doowet; duwet
  • Italy: Giambolana
  • Kenya: lushanaku; mzambarau
  • Laos: va
  • Malaysia: jaman; jambhool; jamblang; jambool; jambu; jambul; jambulan; jambulana; jamelong; jamelongue; jiwat; salam
  • Malaysia/Sabah: obah
  • Myanmar: thabyay-hpyoo
  • Nepal: ban jamun; jambu; kainyu; kalo jamun; kyarnuro; phanir
  • Palau: mesegerak; mesekerrak; mesekerrák; mesigerak
  • Philippines: duhat; lomboi; lomboy; lunaboy
  • Samoa: nonu fi'afi'a
  • Suriname: druif; jamoen; koeli
  • Tanzania: mzambarau
  • Thailand: hakhiphae; ma-ha; wa
  • Venezuela: guayabo pésjua; pésjua extranjera
  • Vietnam: tram moc; voi rung

EPPO code

  • SYZCU (Syzygium cumini)

Trade name

  • jaman
  • jambolan
  • jamun

Summary of Invasiveness

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S. cumini is a fast-growing tropical and sub-tropical tree preferring moist, riverine habitats, that is valued for its fruit, timber and as an ornamental and as such has been widely introduced from its native South Asia. The sweet fruit is readily consumed by a variety of animals which, along with water, spread seeds widely. It grows rapidly, coppices, and tends to forms monocultures which shade out native vegetation. S. cumini is a Category 1 invasive plant in Florida, USA and a Category 3 invasive plant in South Africa, and is invasive in several Pacific islands, especially in the Cook Islands. In has naturalised in many other countries where introduced and is likely to spread further.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Myrtales
  •                         Family: Myrtaceae
  •                             Genus: Syzygium
  •                                 Species: Syzygium cumini

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Formerly part of the genus, Eugenia, S. cumini is now a clearly defined taxa in the genus Syzygium. Commonly known as jambolan it should not be confused with the rose apple (Syzygium jambos).

Syzygium is a genus in the Myrtaceae that includes a number of popular species cultivated for their colourful, edible fleshy fruit. It is a genus of perhaps 1000 species of trees or shrubs native to the Old World tropics. The genus name Syzygium is derived via Latin from the Greek syzygos, meaning yoked together, possibly referring to the paired leaves (Janick and Paull, 2008). Other common names for S. cumini are black plum, damson plum, duhat plum, jamblang, jambolan plum, jamun, Java plum, Malabar plum and Portuguese plum (Janick and Paull, 2008).

Description

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The following description is adapted from Morton (1987): S. cumini may reach 30 m tall in India and Oceania or up to 12–15 m in Florida, USA, with a broad crown up to 11 m in diameter and a trunk diameter of 0.6–0.9 m though it usually has a multi-stemmed form branching close to the ground. Bark is rough, cracked, flaking and discoloured on the lower part of the trunk, becoming smooth and light-grey higher up. Evergreen leaves have a turpentine smell, and are opposite, 5–25 cm long, 2.5–10 cm wide, oblong-oval or elliptic, blunt or tapering to a point at the apex; pinkish when young, becoming leathery, glossy, dark-green above, lighter beneath, with a conspicuous, yellowish midrib when mature. Flowers are fragrant and appear in clusters 2.5–10 cm long, each being 1.25 cm wide and 2.5 cm long, with a funnel-shaped calyx and 4–5 united petals, white at first, becoming rose-pink, shedding rapidly to leave only the numerous stamens. Fruit appear in clusters of just a few or 10–40, are round or oblong, often curved, 1.25–5 cm long, turning from green to light-magenta, then dark-purple or nearly black, although a white-fruited form has been reported in Indonesia. The skin is thin, smooth, glossy, and adherent. The pulp is purple or white, very juicy, and normally encloses a single, oblong, green or brown seed, up to 4 cm long, though some fruits have 2–5 seeds tightly compressed within a leathery coat, and some are seedless. The fruit is usually astringent, sometimes unpalatably so, and the flavour varies from acid to fairly sweet.

Plant Type

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Seed propagated
Tree
Woody

Distribution

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The more restricted native distribution as described by Morton (1987) is accepted in this datasheet, who argued that other countries recorded as native, e.g. Himalayan Asia, south China, South East Asian islands, East Africa, eastern Australia, etc. (USDA-ARS, 2008) are actually due to introduction in pre-history. S. cumini is thus here accepted as only native to India, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasivePlantedReferenceNotes

Asia

BangladeshPresent Natural CABI, 2005
BhutanPresentIntroduced Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008Recorded as Native but not accepted in this datasheet
ChinaPresentLi and Yang, 1991; USDA-ARS, 2008
-FujianPresentIntroduced Not invasive Natural Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2007; USDA-ARS, 2008Recorded as Native but not accepted in this datasheet
-GuangdongPresentIntroduced Not invasive Natural Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2007; USDA-ARS, 2008Recorded as Native but not accepted in this datasheet
-GuangxiPresentIntroduced Not invasive Natural Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2007; USDA-ARS, 2008Recorded as Native but not accepted in this datasheet
-HainanPresentIntroduced Not invasive Planted Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2007
-YunnanPresentIntroduced Not invasive Natural Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2007; USDA-ARS, 2008Recorded as Native but not accepted in this datasheet
Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)PresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2008May naturalise
IndiaWidespreadNative Not invasive Natural Morton, 1987
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentNativeMorton, 1987; Bhumannavar, 1990
-Andhra PradeshUnconfirmed record Natural CABI, 2005
-Arunachal PradeshPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-AssamPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-BiharPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-ChandigarhPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-DelhiPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-GoaPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-GujaratPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-HaryanaUnconfirmed recordPlanted, NaturalCABI, 2005
-Himachal PradeshPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-Indian PunjabPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-Jammu and KashmirPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-KarnatakaUnconfirmed record Natural Mohanasundaram and Parameswaran, 1991
-KeralaPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-Madhya PradeshPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-MaharashtraPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-ManipurPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-MeghalayaPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-MizoramPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-NagalandPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-OdishaPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-RajasthanUnconfirmed record Natural CABI, 2005
-SikkimPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-Tamil NaduUnconfirmed record Natural CABI, 2005
-TripuraPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-Uttar PradeshPresent Natural CABI, 2005
-West BengalUnconfirmed recordCABI, 2005
IndonesiaWidespreadIntroduced Not invasive Natural Morton, 1987Introduced in pre-history
-JavaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Planted Morton, 1987Introduced in pre-history
-SumatraPresent Natural CABI, 2005
IsraelPresentIntroduced1940 Not invasive Morton, 1987
LaosPresentIntroduced Not invasive Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2007
MalaysiaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Natural Morton, 1987Introduced in pre-history
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Morton, 1987Introduced in pre-history
MaldivesPresent Natural CABI, 2005
MyanmarPresentNative Not invasive Natural Morton, 1987
NepalPresentIntroduced Not invasive Natural USDA-ARS, 2008Recorded as Native but not accepted in this datasheet
PakistanPresent Natural CABI, 2005
PhilippinesPresentIntroduced Not invasive Planted, NaturalMorton, 1987Introduced in pre-history
Sri LankaPresentNative Not invasive Natural Morton, 1987
ThailandUnconfirmed record Natural CABI, 2005
VietnamPresentIntroduced Not invasive Natural Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2007

Africa

AlgeriaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Morton, 1987
GhanaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Morton, 1987
KenyaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Planted Morton, 1987Introduced in pre-history
MadagascarPresentIntroduced Not invasive Natural Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008
RéunionPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2008Naturalised
SeychellesPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2008Naturalised
South AfricaPresentIntroduced Invasive SABONET, 2006
TanzaniaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Morton, 1987Introduced in pre-history
-ZanzibarPresentIntroduced Not invasive Morton, 1987Introduced in pre-history
UgandaPresentIntroduced Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008Recorded as Native but not accepted in this datasheet

North America

BermudaPresentIntroducedearly 1900s Not invasive Morton, 1987
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-CaliforniaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Morton, 1987
-FloridaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Morton, 1987
-HawaiiWidespreadIntroduced1870 Invasive Morton, 1987; PIER, 2008

Central America and Caribbean

Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Kairo et al., 2003; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008
BahamasPresentIntroduced Invasive Kairo et al., 2003
BarbadosPresentIntroduced Not invasive Kairo et al., 2003
BelizePresentIntroduced Not invasive Morton, 1987
CaribbeanPresent Planted
CubaPresentIntroducedearly 1900s Not invasive Morton, 1987; Kairo et al., 2003
DominicaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Kairo et al., 2003
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroduced Not invasive Kairo et al., 2003; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008
El SalvadorPresentIntroduced Not invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008
GrenadaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Kairo et al., 2003
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedearly 1900s Not invasive Morton, 1987; Kairo et al., 2003
GuatemalaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Morton, 1987
HaitiPresentIntroducedearly 1900s Not invasive Morton, 1987; Kairo et al., 2003
HondurasPresentIntroduced Not invasive Morton, 1987
JamaicaPresentIntroducedearly 1900s Not invasive Morton, 1987; Kairo et al., 2003
MartiniquePresentIntroducedearly 1900s Not invasive Morton, 1987; Kairo et al., 2003
MontserratPresentIntroduced Not invasive Kairo et al., 2003
Netherlands AntillesPresentIntroduced Not invasive Kairo et al., 2003
PanamaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced1920 Not invasive Morton, 1987
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentIntroduced Not invasive Kairo et al., 2003
Saint LuciaPresentIntroduced Invasive Kairo et al., 2003; Graveson, 2012Common on Piaye river; potential threat to riparian systems
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesReported present or known to be presentIntroduced Not invasive Kairo et al., 2003; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroduced Not invasive Kairo et al., 2003
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced Not invasive Kairo et al., 2003

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008
BoliviaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008
BrazilPresentIntroduced Not invasive Planted Morton, 1987
-Rio Grande do NortePresent Planted CABI, 2005
ColombiaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008
French GuianaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008
GuyanaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008
ParaguayPresentIntroduced Not invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008
SurinamePresentIntroduced Not invasive Morton, 1987
VenezuelaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Morton, 1987

Oceania

AustraliaPresentPlanted, NaturalCABI, 2005
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced Not invasive Morton, 1987Introduced in pre-history
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Not invasive Morton, 1987Introduced in pre-history
-VictoriaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2008
-Western AustraliaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2008
Cook IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted PIER, 2008
FijiPresentIntroduced Not invasive Planted PIER, 2008
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Morton, 1987; PIER, 2008
-MarquesasPresentPlanted, NaturalCABI, 2005
GuamPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2008
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2008
NiuePresentIntroduced Not invasive Planted PIER, 2008
PalauPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2008
SamoaPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2008
TongaPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2008

History of Introduction and Spread

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Producing a fruit of local value, S. cumini would have been introduced from early times. In fact, it is thought to have been spread intentionally during pre-history to Bhutan, Nepal, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Java and elsewhere in the East Indies, and to Queensland and New South Wales, also on the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba (Tanzania) and Mombasa and the adjacent coast of Kenya (Morton, 1987). Before 1870 it was established in Hawaii, USA, and by the early 1900s it could be found cultivated in many Caribbean islands, reaching Puerto Rico in 1920 (Morton, 1987). It was also introduced into South America, the USA and Pacific and Indian Ocean islands though dates are not available. It was introduced to Israel in 1940 (Morton, 1987). Other Syzygium species have also been widely introduced and have also become invasive, such as S. jambos in the Caribbean Greater Antilles (Kairo et al., 2003), and S. malaccense. The tree is likely to be much more widespread than is indicated, especially in Africa.

Risk of Introduction

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S. cumini is a Category 1 invasive plant in Florida, USA (Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, 2007) and a Category 3 invasive plant in South Africa (SABONET, 2006). As a valuable fruit and forestry tree, it is likely to be further introduced.

Habitat

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S. cumini prefers moist locations and will tolerate waterlogging thus is commonly found on riverbanks, but it can also survive, but less well, on drier sites once established. In its native range it is commonly cultivated and thus found in and around homesteads and agricultural land. In the Pacific where it has proved most invasive, it is generally a more lowland species such as in Fiji, but may be found up to 700 m Hawaii and has naturalised in inland forests in Fiji (PIER, 2008). It invades coastal bush and savanna in South Africa (SABONET, 2006).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural forests Present, no further details Natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Principal habitat Natural
Wetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Present, no further details Natural
Littoral
Coastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Coastal areas Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

There are several common fruit types in India that have a genetic basis and may have resulted from human selection (Morton, 1987). These are ‘ra jaman’,with large oblong, dark-purple or bluish fruits, with pink, sweet pulp and small seeds, and ‘kaatha’,with small acid fruits, and several named cultivars exist, especially in South-East Asia.

Reproductive Biology

It propagates easily from fresh seed, and coppices and resprouts readily. S. cumini begins bearing fruit when 8–10 years old. Seeds lose their viability quickly after maturation.

Physiology and Phenology

Seedlings grow slowly the first year, rapidly thereafter, and may exceeding 3 m in height after 2 years, reaching full size in 40 years. Flowering occurs February-March in Florida, USA, May–August in Sri Lanka, and July–August in Java, Indonesia, and the fruit ripens in April in French Polynesia, May–June in the Philippines, May-July in India and Florida, late summer and autumn in Hawaii, September-October in Java, and November-December in Sri Lanka (Morton, 1987). Dry weather during flowering and fruiting will increase fruit production. Fruits need to be harvested by hand as they ripen, requiring several collections over the season, with a crops of 700 fruits possible from a 5-year-old tree, and the production of a large tree may be overwhelming to the average household.

Environmental Requirements

S. cumini grows best in wet regions with annual rainfall generally in excess of 1000 mm and up to 4000 mm, and even in some of the wettest places in the world (10,000 mm), though it will tolerate drier sites especially when established and on stony and/or gravely soils. It is a tropical species preferring mean annual temperatures around 25–27°C though will grow in sub-tropical areas, being sensitive to frost when young but mature trees have been undamaged by short frosts in southern Florida. Despite its ability to thrive in low, wet areas, the tree also grows well on higher land if well-drained such as loams, marls, sands or oolitic limestone. It grows well up to 1800 m, but above 600 m it does not fruit (Morton, 1987). A modified description of climatic requirements (see climatic data table of this data sheet) was prepared by CSIRO (see Booth and Jovanovic, 2000).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
A - Tropical/Megathermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coolest month > 18°C, > 1500mm precipitation annually
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
B - Dry (arid and semi-arid) Tolerated < 860mm precipitation annually
BS - Steppe climate Tolerated > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
32 -30 0 1800

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -2
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 17 34
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 30 44
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 5 24

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration04number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall6005000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Uniform

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • impeded
  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile

Notes on Natural Enemies

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In its native India, the whitefly, Dialeurodes eugeniae is common throughout, whereas the most troublesome insects in the south are leaf-eating caterpillars of Carea subtilis, Chrysocraspeda olearia, Phlegetonia delatrbc, Oenospila flavifuscata, Metanastria hyrtaca, and Euproctis fraternal whichmay cause total defoliation. The leafminer, Acrocercops phaeospora, can also be a major problem, Idiocerus atkinsoni sucks the sap of flowering shoots, buds and flower clusters, causing them to fall, and fruits are attacked by fruit flies (often Dacus diversus in India), Diseases recorded as found on S. cumini by inspectors of the Florida Department of Agriculture are: black leaf spot (Asterinella puiggarii); green scurf or algal leaf spot (Cephaleuros virescens); mushroom root rot (Clitocybe tabescens); anthracnose (Colletotrichum gloeosporioides); and leaf spot caused by Phyllosticta eugeniae. Where invasive in Florida, some trees are very susceptible to scale insects.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Seeds are the most common means of dissemination, and these are known to be consumed and spread by animals, in Hawaii, mynah birds and other frugivorous birds and perhaps occasionally by feral pigs (Sus scrofa) (PIER, 2008). Many other birds and mammals are known to eat the fruit, including jackals and civets, and in Australia they are a favourite food of bats (Morton, 1987). Being a riverine species, seeds are also likely to be dispersed locally by water. Long-distance dispersal has been almost entirely due to intentional introduction as a fruit, timber and ornamental species.

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Water Yes

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Positive
Economic/livelihood Positive
Environment (generally) Positive and negative
Human health Positive

Impact

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Economic Impact

S. cumini has a positive economic impact via the provision of nutritious fruit, timber and as a traded ornamental. No costs for the control of S. cumini are available.

Social Impact

The tree is venerated in South Asia by Buddhists and Hindus. It is considered sacred to the Hindu gods Krishna and Ganesha and is commonly planted near Hindu temples (Morton, 1987). Where used as a street and ornamental tree, heavy fruiting can lead to masses of fruits littering pavements, roads and gardens, rapidly fermenting producing an unpleasant small and attracting insects, and as such many people want such trees replaced.

Environmental Impact

This large evergreen tree forms a dense cover and when forming a monoculture it can prevent other species from regenerating and growing, and although it is not an aggressive invader of undisturbed forest like the closely related S. jambos, it is known to prevent the reestablishment of native lowland forest.

It can also prevent the growth of desirable forage species.

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Nototrichium humile (kaala rockwort)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - smotheringUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2008
Peucedanum sandwicense (makou)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as threatened species USA ESA listing as threatened speciesHawaiiCompetition - smotheringUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011a
Scaevola coriacea (dwarf naupaka)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition (unspecified)US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010b
Schiedea apokremnos (Kauai schiedea)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition (unspecified)US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010c
Schiedea hookeri (sprawling schiedea)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resources; Ecosystem change / habitat alterationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011b
Schiedea kealiae (Waianae Range schiedea)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010a
Schiedea spergulina var. leiopodaNational list(s) National list(s); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010d
Schiedea spergulina var. spergulinaUSA ESA listing as threatened species USA ESA listing as threatened speciesHawaiiCompetition - smotheringUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1995

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Reproduces asexually
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Competition - smothering
  • Competition
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

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It is a multipurpose tree which is highly valued for its medicinal uses, edible fruits, for fodder, for strong heavy timber and good fuelwood. It is mainly found as a home garden fruit tree, although it is also found wild in secondary forests. It is also a host plant of the tasar silkworm, and a good source of nectar for honeybees. It is a sacred tree to Hindus and Buddhists. Seeds used to be traded for medicinal use until the end of the 1700s, when they were widely exported from India to Malaysia and Polynesia, and from the West Indies to Europe. The tree is grown as shade for coffee in India, and being wind-resistant is sometimes planted in dense rows as a windbreak, and if topped regularly, such plantings form a dense, massive hedge.

S. cumini fruit have a sweet or sub-acid flavour with little astringency, and are eaten raw or made into tarts, sauces and jam. More astringent fruits may be improved by treating them in a similar way to olives, i.e. by soaking them in salt water or leaving fruit stand after pricking them and rubbing them with salt, and all but the most inferior fruits can be made into juice which is similar to grape juice. When extracting juice from cooked fruit, just draining without squeezing will make it less astringent. White-fleshed fruit is high in pectin and makes very stiff jam unless cooking is brief, but the common purple-fleshed fruit yields a richly coloured jam but lacks pectin and requires the addition of a commercial gelling agent, or it must be combined with pectin-rich fruits such as unripe or sour guavas, or ketembillas. Good quality juice is excellent for sherbet, syrup and ‘squash’. In India, the latter is made into a bottled drink prepared by cooking crushed fruits and pressing out the juice, then adding sugar, water, citric acid and sodium benzoate. In Goa, India and the Philippines, S. cumini fruit are made into a Port-like wine and distilled liquors, brandy and ‘jambava’. Vinegar, extensively made throughout India, has an attractive clear purple colour with a pleasant aroma and mild flavour.

Flowers are abundant and the tree has a high value in apiculture, for example in the Western Ghats, India at elevations above 1000 m with an annual rainfall of 750-1000 mm where they are the main source for Apis dorsata. The honey is of fine quality but ferments in a few months unless treated. The leaves have served as fodder for livestock and as food for tassar silkworms in India, having approximately 9% crude protein. In Zanzibar and Pemba, Tanzania, people use young shoots for cleaning their teeth. An essential oil distilled from leaves is used to scent soap and is blended with other materials in making inexpensive perfume. Bark yields durable brown dyes of various shades depending on the mordant and the strength of the extract, and contains 8–19% tannin being much used in tanning leather and preserving fishing nets. The heartwood is red, reddish-grey or brownish-grey, with close, straight grain, but is hard and difficult to work. It is durable in water and resistant to borers and termites though tends to warp slightly. In India, it is commonly used for beams and rafters, posts, bridges, boats, oars, masts, troughs, well-lining, agricultural implements, carts, solid cart wheels, railway sleepers and the bottoms of railroad cars, and is sometimes made into furniture but has no special qualities. It is a fairly satisfactory fuel. S. cumini has received far more recognition in folk medicine and in the pharmaceutical trade than for any other use. Medicinally, the fruit is stated to be astringent, stomachic, carminative, anti-scorbutic and diuretic, and is used to treat acute diarrhoea, dysentery, dyspepsia, asthma, bronchitis, enlargement of the spleen, urine retention, for sore throat, mouth ulcers, spongy gums, and stomatitis, to treat ringworm of the scalp, burns, as an enema, diabetes mellitus or glycosuiria, as seed extracts are reported to lower blood pressure by 34.6% and this action is attributed to the ellagic acid content.

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed
  • Forage
  • Invertebrate food

Environmental

  • Agroforestry
  • Amenity
  • Ornamental
  • Revegetation
  • Shade and shelter
  • Windbreak

Fuels

  • Fuelwood

General

  • Ornamental

Human food and beverage

  • Beverage base
  • Fruits
  • Honey/honey flora

Materials

  • Bark products
  • Dye/tanning
  • Wood/timber

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore

Wood Products

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Containers

  • Crates
  • Pallets

Furniture

Railway sleepers

Roundwood

  • Pit props
  • Posts

Sawn or hewn building timbers

  • Beams
  • Carpentry/joinery (exterior/interior)
  • Exterior fittings
  • Fences
  • For heavy construction
  • For light construction

Wood-based materials

  • Plywood

Woodware

  • Marquetry
  • Wood carvings

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Syzygium species may appear similar to the untrained eye, and two other species are noted as invasive, S. jambos and S. malaccense, though may be separated by fruit colour; the fruits of S. cumini being purplish-black when ripe whereas those of S. jambos are creamy yellow, tinged with pink. S. cumini can also be confused with the South African S. guineense; but is distinguished by its longer leaves (up to 150 mm) with many closely spaced lateral veins, abruptly tapering leaf apex, oval to pear-shaped fruits, and much-branched sub-terminal inflorescence, usually arising from old leaf scars.

References

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29/02/2008 Updated by:

Nick Pasiecznik, Consultant, France

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