Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Syzygium grande
(sea apple)



Syzygium grande (sea apple)


  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Documented Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Syzygium grande
  • Preferred Common Name
  • sea apple
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • S. grande is listed in the Global Compendium of Weeds as a cultivated and naturalized species (Randall, 2012). Whi...

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CopyrightM.A. Sattar/M.K. Alam
TreesM.A. Sattar/M.K. Alam
CopyrightM.A. Sattar/M.K. Alam
LeavesM.A. Sattar/M.K. Alam
1. tree habit
2. flowering twig
3. fruiting twig
4. fruit
5. cross section of fruit
TitleLine artwork
Caption1. tree habit 2. flowering twig 3. fruiting twig 4. fruit 5. cross section of fruit
CopyrightPROSEA Foundation
1. tree habit
2. flowering twig
3. fruiting twig
4. fruit
5. cross section of fruit
Line artwork1. tree habit 2. flowering twig 3. fruiting twig 4. fruit 5. cross section of fruitPROSEA Foundation


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Syzygium grande (Wight) Walp.

Preferred Common Name

  • sea apple

Other Scientific Names

  • Eugenia grandis Wight
  • Eugenia laosensis Gagnep.
  • Eugenia montana Wight
  • Jambosa firma Blume
  • Jambosa grandis (Wight) Blume
  • Syzygium firmum (Blume) Thwaites
  • Syzygium laosense (Gagnep.) Merr. & L.M.Perry
  • Syzygium megalophyllum Merr. & L.M.Perry
  • Syzygium montanum Thwaites & Hook.f.

Local Common Names

  • Bangladesh: bhattijam; dhakijam
  • India: jam; jamuk
  • Indonesia: klokos
  • Malaysia: jambu ayer laut; jambu laut; jemba; kerian acheh; kerian ayer; ubah
  • Malaysia/Peninsular Malaysia: jambu air laut; jambu jembah; kelat jambu
  • Myanmar: thabyay-kyee; thabyegyi; thabye-pinbwa; thabye-ywet-gyi; toungthabyay
  • Thailand: mao; wa-dong; yamu-yimma

Trade name

  • jam
  • jaman

Summary of Invasiveness

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S. grande is listed in the Global Compendium of Weeds as a cultivated and naturalized species (Randall, 2012). While not currently known to be invasive, it continues to be actively cultivated for use as a firebreak and regeneration species in Singapore and Bangladesh, is spread by biotic and abiotic agents, and is known to be naturalized in places beyond its native range, demonstrating its potential for invasiveness (Hossein, 2003; Islam, 2003; Daehler and Baker, 2006; Shono et al., 2007; Randall, 2012). Based on current literature S. grande is not a high-risk species, but considering that several other Syzygium species are known to be weedy or invasive and even threats to native biodiversity, monitoring of this species may be required in the future.

Taxonomic Tree

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

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Syzygium is a tropical genus of the Myrtle family Myrtaceae consisting of over 1000 species with greatest diversity in Malesia and the Old World tropics. Some economically significant members of this genus include the clove tree, S. aromaticum, the rose-apple, S. jambos, and the Malay-apple, S. malaccense.

There has been past taxonomic confusion between the genera Syzygium and Eugenia, but the center of diversity for Eugenia is in the Neotropics. Linnaeus originally described several species under the name Eugenia, named in honour of Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), a patron of botany and horticulture (Britton, 1918). The species Syzygium grande was first described by Wight under two separate names, Eugenia grandis and E. montana, in 1841; the names S. grande and E. grandis had previously been listed in an 1831 publication by Wallich, but had not been described. Two years later, in 1843, Eugenia grandis was moved to the Syzygium genus by Walpers, resulting in the currently accepted taxonomic name Syzygium grande (Wight) Welp. (IPNI, 2015).


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Large tree, up to 30 m tall. Bark is rough with shallow fissures, grayish buff or pinkish in colour with inner bark pale pink to dark reddish and pale yellow near the surface. Leaves are broadly elliptical (10-25 cm x 6-12 cm) with up to 20 well-spaced secondary veins in a pinnate arrangement, its veins appearing invisible near the leaf margin. Flowers are 2.5-3 cm when expanded, very fragrant, petals and stamens white. Fruits are somewhat globular, urn-shaped to ellipsoid berries, apparently green when ripe, 1-2 cm in length, containing a single seed 5-7 mm in size (Henderson, 1949; Daehler and Baker, 2006; PIER, 2015).

Plant Type

Top of page Perennial
Seed propagated


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S. grande is considered native to the Old World tropics, probably the Malay Peninsula, and it is widespread and “relatively common throughout much of mainland Southeast Asia” (Parnell et al., 2007). It was listed in the Western Australian Herbarium’s Florabase (2015) (as syn. E. grandis) as native to Western Australia, but has also been reported as a useful but not endemic species (Maiden, 1899). In the Neotropics, the species is known to occur in parts of Hawaii (Daehler and Baker, 2006). It is also present in parts of the West Indies with specimens having been collected in Cuba, Costa Rica, Panama, and Puerto Rico beginning in the 1930s (US National Herbarium; New York Botancial Garden, 2015), but as of 2000 it was yet ‘scarcely cultivated’ in Puerto Rico (Liogier and Martorell, 2000). The species was not listed in Broome et al.’s (2007) work on the Eastern Caribbean, or in species lists from the Guinea Shield (Funk et al., 2007), Micronesia (Wagner et al., 2015) or the Marquesas (Wagner and Lorence, 2015), suggesting the species is, if present, not common in these places. 

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


BangladeshPresentNativeRahman, 1977; Govaerts, 2015
Brunei DarussalamPresentNativeSingapore National Parks Board, 2013
CambodiaPresentNativeGovaerts, 2015
ChinaPresentNativeGovaerts, 2015South-central China
IndiaPresentNativeGovaerts, 2015
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentNativeGovaerts, 2015
-AssamPresentNativeGovaerts, 2015
-MeghalayaPresent Natural
IndonesiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-KalimantanPresentNativeGovaerts, 2015
-SumatraPresentNativeGovaerts, 2015
JapanPresent Planted
MalaysiaPresentPlanted, Natural
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentNativeWyatt Smith, 1953Common along coastal edges of Jarak Island, Malacca Strait
MyanmarPresentNativeKress et al., 2003; Govaerts, 2015
SingaporePresentNativeShono et al., 2007; Chong et al., 2009; Singapore National Parks Board, 2013Common
Sri LankaPresentNativeGovaerts, 2015
ThailandPresent Natural Govaerts, 2015
VietnamPresentNativeGovaerts, 2015


SeychellesPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2015Naturalised

North America

USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedDaehler and Baker, 2006; New York Botanical Garden, 2015Naturalised around Lyon Arboretum, Aihualama Island as of 2006

Central America and Caribbean

Costa RicaPresentFlora Mesoamericana, 2015Specimen collected in 1993
CubaPresentSmithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2015Specimens collected in 1930 and 1932
PanamaPresentFlora Mesoamericana, 2015Specimen collected in 1986
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedLiogier and Martorell, 2000; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012


AustraliaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Western AustraliaPresentNativeWestern Australian Herbarium, 2015

History of Introduction and Spread

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S. grande is considered native to the Old World tropics with natural populations in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand, often being grown on plantations in these places for timber production. It has also been actively cultivated in Bangladesh and Singapore to aid in repopulating deforested areas as its mature wood is fire-resistant (Hossein, 2003; Islam, 2003; Shono et al., 2007; Rahman et al., 2011; Govaerts, 2015). It was listed in the Western Australian Herbarium’s FloraBase (2015) (as syn. E. grandis) as native to Western Australia and was listed as being cultivated in the Melbourne Botanic Gardens in 1883 (Guilfoyle, 1883), but Maiden (1899) reported it as a timber species not native to Australia.

In Hawaii, where the species can be found growing on coastal edge forests, it was apparently first grown in the Lyon Arboretum in 1932, with a report of its naturalized state around the Arboretum first reported in 2006 (Daehler and Baker, 2006); there were observed “hundreds of seedlings and saplings... mostly within 100 m of the original plantings in both Haukulu and ‘Aihualama” and “thickets of saplings in unmanaged forests”.

Date of introduction to the West Indies is uncertain but, similarly to the case of Hawaii, it may have occurred within the last century. The species was not listed in floras from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but specimens were collected in Cuba in 1930 and 1932 (Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2015). Liogier and Martorell (2000) described it as “scarcely cultivated” in Puerto Rico. 

Risk of Introduction

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Risk of introduction for this species is currently low, as it is not yet considered weedy or invasive (Randall, 2012; PIER, 2015). It is known to naturalize in non-native habitats, but this has so far only been observed to occur in areas immediately surrounding plantations or forested places where it had intentionally been planted for forest regeneration or as a timber source (Hossein, 2003; Islam, 2003; Daehler and Baker, 2006). Its seeds are viable and are dispersed by biotic and abiotic vectors, and the species is capable of reproducing vegetatively. Considering the invasiveness of other Sygyzium species and serious threat they have reportedly posed to native biodiversity, S. grande may require monitoring and re-evaluation in the later future.


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On the Malay Peninsula, where it is native, S. grande has been reported to occur wild on sandy and rocky sea coasts, and is widely planted inland as a roadside tree (Henderson, 1949; PIER, 2015). In Bangladesh, the species has been actively planted to repopulate deforested areas, for use as timber, and to act as firebreak trees; it has been planted in managed forests, marginal land areas such as roadsides, and plantations (Hossein, 2003; Islam, 2003). In Singapore, S. grande occurs as a coastal tree and can be commonly found on sandy and rocky shores, and is also widely planted as a wayside tree (National University of Singapore, 2015). The species also occurs in the forests of Yauco, Puerto Rico (Liogier and Martorell, 2000).

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Coastal areas Present, no further details Natural
Coastal areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural

Biology and Ecology

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S. grande has a good regeneration capacity. Synchronous flowering can be observed at the onset of wet spells, with greater intensity of flowering if this follows a long dry period. The flowers attract birds, bees and butterflies, but are probably pollinated by bats (Singapore National Parks Board, 2013). There are about 70 fruits per kilogram, each containing a single seed. Seed viability is short (15-25 days). About 60-70% of seeds germinate after direct sowing. In nurseries, seed germination can increase to 75-80% when raised in polybags. It coppices well when young, but coppicing ability declines with age. It can also be propagated vegetatively through grafting and air-layering.

Environmental Requirements

The species commonly occurs along coastal areas and withstand soils ranging from rocky, sandy, and unfertile to fertile (Henderson, 1949; National University of Singapore, 2015; PIER, 2015).


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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]))
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
25 -10 3 300

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) 6
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 23 28
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 22 40
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 6 18


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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration04number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall20005000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • impeded

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • shallow

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)

Seed dispersal by water is possible: the species thrives in coastal edge forests of its native Malay range as well as in Hawaii and Singapore.

Vector Transmission (Biotic)

Seed can be dispersed by animals; the species’ fruits are eaten by bats (Wyatt-Smith, 1953; National University of Singapore, 2015), as well as monkeys and squirrels (Ridley, 1894).

Accidental Introduction

The species is known to have naturalized beyond its native range in places where it had been cultivated for use in agroforestry and revegetation (Randall, 2012).

Intentional Introduction

S. grande has been cultivated for use in agroforestry and revegetation, most notably in Bangladesh and Singapore (Hossein, 2003; Islam, 2003; Shono et al., 2007; Randall, 2012).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Breeding and propagationSpecies has been actively utilized in plantation and reforestation programmes Yes Yes Islam, 2003; Shono et al., 2007
Digestion and excretionFruits are eaten by bats, monkeys, and squirrels Yes Ridley, 1894; Wyatt Smith, 1953
ForestrySpecies is cultivated as part of teak and timber programme in Bangladesh Yes Yes Hossain, 2003
Habitat restoration and improvementSpecies has been actively utilized in plantation and reforestation programmes Yes Yes Islam, 1984; Rahman et al., 2011
Medicinal useSeeds, fruit, and bark are used in local traditional medicine Yes National University of Singapore, 2015; Rahman, 1977
Timber trade Yes Yes Hossain, 2003; Islam, 2003; Shono et al., 2007

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Debris and waste associated with human activitiesSeeds, fruit, and bark are used locally in traditional medicine Yes Rahman et al., 2011
Floating vegetation and debrisWater dispersal is possible as species grows along coastal edge forests Yes Henderson, 1949; National University of Singapore, 2015; PIER, 2015; Wyatt Smith, 1953
WaterWater dispersal is possible as species grows along coastal edge forests Yes Henderson, 1949; National University of Singapore, 2015; PIER, 2015; Wyatt Smith, 1953

Impact Summary

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Economic/livelihood Positive
Environment (generally) Positive
Human health Positive

Impact: Economic

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S. grande has been cultivated in tropical Asia for the commercial production of timber and for use as a firebreak tree, especially in areas that had been severely deforested and are susceptible to brush fires. As the species appears to naturalize in the areas immediately surrounding where it was originally planted (Daehler and Baker, 2006; PIER, 2015), its introduction and presumably limited spread to non-native areas would not be expected to have a negative economic impact.

Impact: Environmental

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Naturalization of the species appears to be limited to areas surrounding plantations and places where it had been originally intentionally planted (Daehler and Baker, 2006; PIER, 2015); currently, there has been no report of its invasion or negative economic or environmental impact, but this is an area for future research.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Long lived
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Modification of fire regime
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately


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Economic Value

The species has been cultivated in plantations for timber production, by itself or mixed in with teak or other tree species. Its wood is used for a number of products including posts, poles, roundwood, and other construction materials (Islam, 2003).

Social Benefit

Various members of the Syzygium genus are used in local medical traditions, and some, such as the Malay apple and the date plum, are cultivated for their edible fruits. S. grande is known to be used medicinally in Bangladesh; its mature fruit, seeds, and bark are harvested and used locally to treat cases of coughs, piles, tooth diseases, dysentery, bronchitis, and diabetes (Rahman et al., 2011).

The fruits of S. grande, while not known to be grown for food, are often eaten by animals such as monkeys, bats, and squirrels which aid in the dispersal of the seeds (Ridley, 1894; Wyatt-Smith, 1953; National University of Singapore, 2015).

Environmental Services

In Singapore and Bangladesh, S. grande has been cultivated in areas that have suffered major deforestation and are susceptible to brush fires, as S. grande is a good firebreak tree (Islam, 2003; Shono et al., 2007). 

Uses List

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  • Agroforestry
  • Firebreak
  • Revegetation


  • Wood/timber

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Wood Products

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  • Boxes
  • Tanks
  • Vats



  • Short-fibre pulp

Railway sleepers


  • Building poles
  • Posts
  • Stakes
  • Transmission poles

Sawn or hewn building timbers

  • Beams
  • Bridges
  • Carpentry/joinery (exterior/interior)
  • Engineering structures
  • Exterior fittings
  • Fences
  • Flooring
  • For heavy construction
  • For light construction
  • Gates
  • Wall panelling

Vehicle bodies


Wood-based materials

  • Fibreboard
  • Hardboard
  • Particleboard
  • Plywood


  • Industrial and domestic woodware
  • Tool handles

Prevention and Control

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Physical/Mechanical Control

Physical control methods such as cutting down or frilling (removal of bark completely around the base of the tree trunk) have been used in combination with herbicide applications in vigorous efforts to control some Syzygium species that have proved invasive threats to native flora of places such as Hawaii, the Galapagos Islands, and Pitcairn Islands (ISSG, 2015). Physical removal of trees and replacing them with native species has also been a reported method for an invasive Syzygium species (S. jambos) in Costa Rica (Avalos et al., 2006).

Chemical Control

Syzygium species can be controlled by herbicides, and in places where species have become serious threats to native flora, a combination of physical and chemical control methods have been reported. Syzygium cumini, for example, forms a dense cover and because of its extensive cultivation as a fruit tree, has become very invasive in Hawaii, the Cook Islands, and French Polynesia; vigorous efforts are being undertaken in Hawaii to remove the species through chemical control (ISSG, 2015). Syzygium jambos is likewise an invasive species on several Pacific islands, and has been reportedly controlled by applying herbicides (picloram and metsulfuron-methyl at 5-10%) (ISSG, 2015).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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S. grande is currently a low risk species. There is as yet no evidence that it has become invasive in non-native places where it has been introduced, cultivated, and naturalized, but this may change considering its role as a firebreak tree in tropical forest recovery programmes such as those in Singapore and Bangladesh. Although based on current literature it is a species of low concern, an assessment of its impact on local biodiversity is recommended, considering several related species are known to be weedy and invasive.


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08/10/2015 Original text by:

Marianne Jennifer Datiles, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

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