Syzygium cumini

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Syzygium cumini
Syzygium cumini Bra30.png
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Myrtales
Family: Myrtaceae
Genus: Syzygium
S. cumini
Binomial name
Syzygium cumini

Syzygium cumini, commonly known as Malabar plum,[2] Java plum,[2] or black plum,[3] is an evergreen tropical tree in the flowering plant family Myrtaceae. It is native to the Indian Subcontinent, adjoining regions of Southeast Asia, China and Queensland.[1] The name of the fruit is sometimes mistranslated as blackberry, which is a different fruit in an unrelated order. Syzygium cumini has been spread overseas from India by Indian emigrants and at present is common in tropical former British colonies.[4]

The tree was introduced to Florida in 1911 by the USDA, and is also now commonly grown in Suriname, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. In Brazil, where it was introduced from India during Portuguese colonization, it has dispersed spontaneously in the wild in some places, as its fruits are eagerly sought by various native birds such as thrushes, tanagers and the great kiskadee. This species is considered an invasive in Hawaii.[5]


A slow growing species, it can reach heights of up to 30 m and can live more than 100 years. Its dense foliage provides shade and is grown just for its ornamental value. At the base of the tree, the bark is rough and dark grey, becoming lighter grey and smoother higher up. The wood is water resistant. Because of this it is used in railway sleepers and to install motors in wells. It is sometimes used to make cheap furniture and village dwellings though it is relatively hard to work on.

The leaves which have an aroma similar to turpentine, are pinkish when young, changing to a leathery, glossy dark green with a yellow midrib as they mature. The leaves are used as food for livestock, as they have good nutritional value.[6] Dried leaves are also used to make (native) cigarettes by wrapping them around a small piece of tobacco leave, for instance on the Philippine islands.[7]

Flower bud and open flowers
Syzygium cumini fruit color changing from green to pink to blood red to black as it matures

Syzygium cumini trees start flowering from March to April. The flowers are fragrant and small, about 5 mm in diameter. The fruits develop by May or June and resemble large berries; the fruit of Syzygium species is described as "drupaceous".[8] The fruit is oblong, ovoid. Unripe fruit looks green. As it matures, its color changes to pink, then to shining crimson red and finally to black color. A variant of the tree produces white coloured fruit. The fruit has a combination of sweet, mildly sour and astringent flavour and tends to colour the tongue purple.

Health effects[edit]

The seed of the fruit is used in various alternative healing systems like Ayurveda,[9][10] Unani and Chinese medicine.

The extract of the fruit and seeds are found be effective against hyperglycemia in diabetic rats.[11]

Wine and vinegar are also made from the fruit. It has a high source in vitamin A and vitamin C.[12][13][14]

The 1889 book 'The Useful Native Plants of Australia’ records that the plant was referred to as "Durobbi" by Indigenous Australians, and that "The fruit is much eaten by the natives of India; in appearance it resembles a damson, has a harsh but sweetish flavour, somewhat astringent and acid. It is much eaten by birds, and is a favourite food of the large bat or flying fox. (Brandis)."[15]

Nutrients and phytochemicals[edit]

Java-plum, (jambolan), raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy251 kJ (60 kcal)
14 g
Dietary fiber0.6 g
0.23 g
0.995 g
VitaminsQuantity %DV
Thiamine (B1)
0.019 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.009 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.245 mg
Vitamin B6
0.038 mg
Vitamin C
11.95 mg
MineralsQuantity %DV
11.65 mg
1.41 mg
35 mg
15.6 mg
55 mg
26.2 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water84.75 g

Link to Newcrop entry
Link to USDA Database entry
Newcrop values given as averages
Calories/B6 from USDA
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Nutritional information for S. cumini leaves and fruit are detailed here.

Java Plum Leaf
Compound Percent
Crude Protein 9.1
Fat 4.3
Crude Fiber 17.0
Ash 7
Calcium 1.3
Phosphorus 0.19

Cultural and religious significance in India[edit]

Krishna is also known to have four symbols of the jambu fruit on his right foot as mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam commentary (verse 10.30.25), "Sri Rupa Chintamani" and "Ananda Candrika" by Srila Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakura.[16]

Maharashtra State, India[edit]

In Maharashtra, S. cumini leaves are used in marriage pandal decorations. A song from the film 'Jait re Jait (1977)' mentions the fruit in the song 'Jambhul Piklya Zaadakhali'. The seeds are sometimes used in herbal teas to treat diabetes.

A story from the great Indian epic, Mahabharatha is named Jambulaakhyan, that is related to this fruit.[17]

According to Hindu mythology, Lord Rama subsisted on the fruit in the forest for 14 years during his exile from Ayodhya. Because of this, many Hindus regard S. cumini fruit as a 'Fruit of the Gods'.[18]

Andhra Pradesh State, India[edit]

Besides the fruits, wood from Neredu tree (as it is called in the region's language, Telugu) is used in Andhra Pradesh to make bullock cartwheels and other agricultural equipment. The timber of Neredu is used to construct doors and windows. Hindus use a sizable branch of the tree to inaugurate the beginning of marriage preparations and plant it in a place a pandal will be erected. Culturally, beautiful eyes are compared to this fruit. In the great epic of India Mahabharatha, Krishnas' (Vishnu) body colour is compared to this fruit as well.

Tamil Nadu State, India[edit]

Legend speaks of Auvaiyar (also Auvayar), of Sangam period (Tamil literature), and Naval Pazham in Tamil Nadu. Auvaiyar, believing to have achieved everything that is to be achieved, said to have been pondering over her retirement from Tamil literary work while resting under Naval Pazham tree. But she was met with and was wittily jousted by a disguised Murugan (regarded as one of the guardian deities of Tamil language), who later revealed himself and made her realize that there is still a lot more to be done and learnt. Following this awakening, Auvaiyar is believed to have undertaken a fresh set of literary works, targeted at children.

Kerala State, India[edit]

The fruit, locally known as Njaval Pazham[19] is particularly plentiful in Kollam.

Karnataka State, India[edit]

This tree is commonly found across Karnataka, particularly in rural parts of the state. The name of the fruit in Kannada is Nerale Hannu (ನೇರಳೆಹಣ್ಣು).


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Syzygium cumini". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Syzygium cumini". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 22 October 2017.
  3. ^ Banerjee, A; Dasgupta, N; De, B (2005). "In vitro study of antioxidant activity of Syzygium cumini fruit". Food Chemistry. 90 (4): 727. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2004.04.033.
  4. ^ "Syzygium cumini".
  5. ^ [1] Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER), retrieved November 3rd, 2010
  6. ^ The encyclopedia of fruit & nuts, By Jules Janick, Robert E. Paull, p. 552
  7. ^
  8. ^ Chen, Jie & Craven, Lyn A., "Syzygium", in Wu, Zhengyi; Raven, Peter H. & Hong, Deyuan (eds.), Flora of China (online),, retrieved 2015-08-13
  9. ^ Nadu, Tamil (March 22, 2012). "Is it good for diabetics?". The Hindu.
  10. ^ [2] Tips for Health: Wofome
  11. ^ Raza, Ahmad; Butt, Masood Sadiq; Iahtisham-Ul-Haq; Suleria, Hafiz Ansar Rasul (August 2017). "Jamun ( Syzygium cumini ) seed and fruit extract attenuate hyperglycemia in diabetic rats". Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine. 7 (8): 750–754. doi:10.1016/j.apjtb.2017.07.006.
  12. ^ [3] Syzygium Cumini, retrieved November 3rd, 2010
  13. ^ [4] TopTropicals plant catalog, retrieved November 3rd, 2010
  14. ^ Luximon-Ramma, Amitabye (2003). "Antioxidant actions and phenolic and vitamin C contents of common Mauritian exotic fruits". Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 83 (5): 496–502. doi:10.1002/jsfa.1365.
  15. ^ J. H. Maiden (1889). The useful native plants of Australia : Including Tasmania. Turner and Henderson, Sydney.
  16. ^ Vishvanatha, Cakravarti Thakura (2011). Sarartha-darsini (Bhanu Swami ed.). Sri Vaikunta Enterprises. p. 790. ISBN 978-81-89564-13-1.
  17. ^ "Stains of the Jambul - Devdutt".
  18. ^ Phalak, Paresh Prashant. "Gifting Trees...: The Fruit of the Gods". Gifting Trees... Retrieved 2020-05-05.
  19. ^ "ഞാവൽപഴത്തിന്റെ വില കിലോ 400 രൂപ".