Syzygium guineense!! Marked as invasive by:CABI Invasive Species Compendium

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Related Links
Syzygium guineense foliage
© Joris de Wolf, Patrick Van Damme, Diego Van Meersschaut
Syzygium guineense bark
© Joris de Wolf, Patrick Van Damme, Diego Van Meersschaut
Syzygium guineense slash
© Joris de Wolf, Patrick Van Damme, Diego Van Meersschaut
Syzygium guineense, flower and fruit
© Paul Latham
Syzygium guineense
© Anthony Njenga

Local names:
Amharic (dokma), English (waterpear,waterboom,water berry,snake bean tree,woodland waterberry,mountain waterberry,bi-coloured waterberry), Luganda (kalunginsanvu,muziti), Ndebele (umdoni), Shona (mukute), Swahili (mzambarau,msambaran,mzambarani,mzambarau

Syzygium guineense is a medium-sized or tall evergreen tree, 15-30 m high. The bark varies in subspecies and is greyish-white or silver mottled and smooth in young trees, turning rough, flaky, creamy, light grey, dark brown or black in older trees. Bark scales in rectangular flakes and produces red, watery sap if cut; slash is fibrous, even pale brown to dark red-brown. Branchlets sometimes drooping. Crown rounded and heavy; stems thick and angular. Bundles of fibrous aerial roots, about 2 m up the bole, have been observed in Botswana.

Leaves narrow at both ends, length 5-17.5 cm, width 1.3-7.5 cm; simple, opposite, elliptic, lanceolate or ovate-elliptic; with margins that are untoothed and sometimes slightly wavy and rolled inward; apex obtuse to acuminate and rounded, occasionally notched; base cuneate; stalk short and grooved; midrib sunken on top, raised below, with many fine, lateral veins; glabrous, grey-green, tough, shiny; fragrant when crushed.

Flowers (filaments) 1.5 cm in diameter, sessile or subsessile, fragrant, creamy white; borne in terminal panicles forming heads up to 10 x 10 cm, or with 4-8 widely spaced flowers in branched heads up to 3 cm in diameter; calyx persistent with 4 petals; stamens numerous, about 6 mm long. Petals fall early but the white stamens are showy, making a conspicuous short brush or puff contrasting with the red or pink calyx tips.

Fruits ovoid or ellipsoid drupes, 1.2-3.5 cm x 1 x 2.5 cm, 2-3 celled, in bunches of 20 to 30, whitish-green when immature, turning to shiny purplish-black and juicy after ripening; 1-seeded. Seeds are 1.3-1.4 cm in diameter, yellowish to brownish and rounded.

‘Syzygium’ is derived from the Greek ‘syzygios’ (‘paired’), on account of the leaves and twigs that in several species grow at the same point. The specific name means ‘of Guinea’, where the tree was first collected. The common name ‘water pear’ refers to its preference for stream banks and to its wood, supposedly like that of a pear.

Ecology

S. guineense usually occurs in lowland rain forests, mountain rain forests, fringing riverian swampy forests and open Brachystegia - Faurea woodland. It usually grows in moist conditions, sometimes even in water, and is usually found along streams and wadis and on rocky ground in high rainfall savannah.

Native range
Botswana, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Tree management

S. guineense is planted on cleared sites, tolerates pollarding and is able to coppice. The species is sensitive to crown competition and is a strong light demander, thus it could be necessary to refine the crop in natural forests to distribute growth potential to trees.

Seed storage behaviour is recalcitrant with seeds being spoiled in less than 24 hours of storage. On average, there are 2 400 to 3 700 seeds/kg.

S. guineense usually occurs in lowland rain forests, mountain rain forests, fringing riverian swampy forests and open Brachystegia - Faurea woodland. It usually grows in moist conditions, sometimes even in water, and is usually found along streams and wadis and on rocky ground in high rainfall savannah.

The species regenerates adequately in its natural habitats by seed and coppice. For successful germination and seedling establishment, the seed should come in contact with mineral soil and moisture. Artificial regeneration by direct sowing, seedlings, wildings and coppicing. Seed needs no presowing treatment, as germination rates are good and uniform. Rates of 80-90% are attained after 20 to 50 days. Seeds are sensitive to desiccation. Direct sowing into pots is recommended and planted stock could be planted and raised on cleared sites. Fruits are perishable hence should be picked from the ground soon after falling. They may also be collected by shaking the branches with hooks. After collection, the fruits should be sown out immediately as seeds will lose viability if they are dried; if this is not possible, fruit can be stored for a few days in moist sawdust and open containers in well ventilated rooms.

Poison:  The poisonous bark has been reported to cause human deaths.

  The ripe, pleasant-flavoured fruits of S. guineense are gathered and eaten.

Apiculture:  Flowers provide good bee forage.

S. guineense is used as firewood and in the production of charcoal.

Timber:  Syzgium guineense provides reddish-brown, hard, strong, durable wood, that is easy to work and is suitable for poles, posts and for building and bridge construction.

Shade or shelter:  The handsome evergreen tree is preserved in gardens for its deep shade.

Medicine:  Fruit is used as a remedy for dysentery, while a decoction of the bark is used as an antidiarrhoeic. In traditional medicine, liquid from the pounded bark and roots, mixed with water, is used as a purgative.