The genus Syzygium, which is part of the extensive Myrtaceae family, has about 1100 species. The systematics of myrtle plants has recently undergone great changes and additions. Until recently, several close genera were combined together, especially the genus Eugenia and the genus Syzygium, which are among the most poorly studied of the large genera (more than 500 species) of vascular plants.
Currently, botanists have divided these plants into the genera Syzygium, Eugenia, Acmena, and Waterhouseae, but not all scientists agree with this division, there is a completely opposite opinion that these four genera should be combined into one. Hence, many plants of the myrtle family historically retain two or more generic names.
The genus Syzygium is represented mainly by evergreen trees and shrubs. The generic name comes from the Greek syzygos – paired, indicating the opposite arrangement of leaves. Young growth is very decorative, has a reddish color. The leaves are leathery, glossy, essential glands contain oils that are widely used in medicine, cooking and perfumery. The flowers are white, pink, or lilac, consist of 4 sepals and many stamens, sometimes reaching 10 cm, collected more often in apical inflorescences. They are good honey plants. The fruits of many species of the plant are eaten.
Types of syzygium
Until recently, many species of syzygium were poorly understood, some of them were not described at all. The genus plant has the greatest diversity in Australia and Malaysia, it is also found in Africa, Madagascar, India, and Southeast Asia. At the same time, the genus Eugenia is most common in South and Central America, and in Australia only one species is described. Some species of syzygium, once in new conditions and due to their good adaptability, are considered invasive and threaten natural ecosystems. Unfortunately, many species that are not widely industrialized are endangered, on the verge of extinction in natural conditions and have conservation status.
Many species of syzygium are used simultaneously as fruit, ornamental and ether-bearing plants. Solid wood has found application in the manufacture of furniture. A dye is isolated from the bark, it is also rich in tannins, valuable for medicine.
The most famous representative of the genus Syzygium is a clove tree or fragrant clove – Syzygium fragrant (Syzygium aromaticum, formerlyEugenia aromatica). In cooking, dried buds of this tree called cloves are widely used as a spice. In medicine, essential oils are used, which are isolated from flowers, bark and leaves.
Not only from the clove tree, but from some other species of Syzygium, valuable essential oils are obtained. So, from syzygium aniseum, or anise myrtle (Syzygium anisatum), essential oils resembling the aroma of anise are extracted. The fragrant leaf of Syzygium polyanthum (Syzygium polyanthum) is used in Southeast Asia similarly to laurel leaf in Europe.
Among the representatives of the genus Syzygium there are also real fruit trees, for example, syzygium iambosa (Syzygium jambos, formerly Eugenia jambos) – Malabar plum, sometimes called the Pink Apple.
As fruit trees, Syzygium aqueum (Syzygium aqueum) – Water apple is also grown; Syzygium cumini ( Syzygium cumini); Syzygium papyraceum; Syzygium luehmannii.
Plants of the genus Syzygium are also valued for decorative glossy leaves, beautiful flowers, elegant fruits and are grown for landscape gardening. So, Syzygium malaccense (Syzygium malaccense) – Malay apple, thanks to its unusual dark pink flowers, ornamentalfruits and the beauty of the tree, was highly appreciated as the most beautiful representative of the myrtle family.
Very popular are Syzygium paniculatum, formerly known as Eugenia myrtifolia, and the related species Syzygium australe. They are used for sheared hedges and topiaries. In countries with a cool climate, they are grown as ornamental and fruit, indoor or container plants.
Syzygium australe is endemic to Australia. In nature, it can reach more than 25 m in height. The leaves are opposite, rounded, glossy. White flowers are collected in inflorescences, in autumn edible large, about 20 mm, fleshy red egg-shaped fruits with large seeds ripen in abundance.
Another member of the genus that is often found in our country as a houseplant is Syzygium rubicundum (formerly Eugenia rubicunda), although it is likely that this is another closely related species. It is a very ornamental tree, with red young shoots. The leaves are elongated, slightly corrugated along the edge. At home, relatively unpretentious, the conditions of detention, as in Syzygium paniculata. It is propagated by cuttings.
In hedgerows in countries with warm climates, Smith’s syzygium (Syzygium smithii), commonly known as Smith’s acmena (Acmena smithii), is also grown. We have this ornamental houseplant.
Growing conditions and care
Syzygium grows in countries with tropical and subtropical climates, some species are able to withstand small short frosts. They prefer moist, well-drained soils, do not tolerate drought well. They like the direct sun or some shade at a young age. Indoor conditions require cool winter maintenance.
All plants of the genus Syzygium at home can be affected by a mealybug, shield. Control is carried out with systemic insecticides.
Syzygium is propagated by fresh seeds and cuttings. Plants grown from Australian seeds sometimes find it difficult to adapt to changes in seasonality (when it’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere, we have winter). For indoor cultivation, it is better to purchase plants grown from cuttings for many generations and adapted to our change of seasons.