Malay Rose Apple (Fijian: Kavika)

Syzygium malaccense (Myrtaceae)

Characteristics

Trees, up to 15m tall. Very dense rounded crown. Large leaves, 20-30 cm long, 8-18 cm wide. Flowers red. Fruit (berry), edible, red, some varieties with white or pink skin. Flesh white, surrounds a large seed. Taste bland but refreshing.

Distribution

Native to Australia and Malesia (Islands of Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea). Cultivated since prehistoric times by Austronesian people. Introduced to Oceania as canoe plants (more than 4000 years ago). Today, spread throughout the tropics. Conservation status: rare.

Natural Medical Properties

Various parts of the tree are used in traditional medicine, the leaves and bark have in fact been shown to possess antibiotic activity, the bark is astringent, whilst the plant is also weakly hypoglycaemic. The plant contains tannins and is astringent. In particular, the bark, leaves and roots of Malay apple are used against different ailments.
An infusion of the bark is used to treat tuberculosis, mouth infections, stomach-ache and abdominal ailments. The bark is used to cure mouth sores in children. It is also used as a purgative and to treat venereal diseases.
The leaves are used to treat red eyes. A decoction of the leaves is used as a wash on skin infections.
Other conditions treated with this plant include cough; yellow urine and bad appetite; as a remedy for deep bone pains, diabetes, gonorrhoea, swollen stomach after childbirth, sore throat, thrush, bronchitis and to relieve constipation.

Did you know?

Jam is prepared by stewing the flesh with brown sugar and ginger.

Close related (same genus) to the Leba tree (Syzygium neurocalyx, #37 in the botanical tour).

Further reading:

Literature

World Flora Online
WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families
A working list of all plant species