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Syzygium myrtifolium


Syzygium myrtifolium (Roxb.) Walp.

Family Name: Myrtaceae
Synonyms: Syzygium sinubanense, Syzygium campanulatum var. longistylum, Eugenia parva, Syzygium campanellum, Eugenia myrtifolia, Eugenia oleina, Eugenia sinubanensis, Syzygium campanulatum
Common Name: Kelat Oil, Kelat Paya, Red Lip, 红楠木


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Shrub, Tree (Medium (16m-30m), Small (6m-15m), Shrubby (1m-5m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Shrubby
Maximum Height 2 m to 20 m


Native Distribution Northeast India, Myanmar, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, Borneo and the Philippines.
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Coastal Forest, Primary Rainforest, Secondary Rainforest, Riverine)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Critically Endangered (CR))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a tree with a dense bushy crown, up to 20 m tall.
Foliage Its opposite, stalked leaves have leaf blades that are elliptic to lanceolate, about 7.5 cm long and 2.5 cm wide. Young leaves emerge reddish, turning red-brown then green.
Flowers Its powderpuff-like flowers are cream to white in colour, borne on a branched inflorescence, up to 4 cm long.
Fruit Its spherical to ellipsoid fruits are dark purple or black berries, about 9 mm wide.
Habitat It grows in lowland primary and secondary forests, in coastal forests, near freshwater swamps and along riverbanks.
Similar Same form and usage as the relatively new cultivar or variety tentatively known as Syzygium myrtifolium cultivar (dark red leaves), or named as 'Katsura' by certain Malaysian suppliers. This form produces dark red young foliar flush, as well as bright pink inflorescences.
Associated Fauna Its flowers are insect-pollinated, and its fruits are eaten by birds.
Cultivation Hardy plant, tolerates poor soils and salt spray, relatively pest-free. Does not tolerate drought. Tolerates partial shade, but exhibits slower growth, as well as sparser and less intense flush colouration. Takes pruning very well, can be trimmed regularly into various shapes, after which the plant sends out new foliar flush all over the pruned surfaces. Sensitive to transplanting, with fairly high mortality rate, transplanted specimens tend to shed leaves and require a period of time to recover from shock. Propagate by stem cuttings, air-layering or seeds.
Etymology Genus epithet 'Syzygium' derived from 'syzygos' (Greek for 'joined'), alluding to the opposite paired leaves. Species epithet 'myrtifolium' means myrtle-leaved, describing how the plant's foliar shape and texture resemble the leaves of Myrtus.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is suitable for planting along streetscapes, parks and gardens as a tree or as a dense hedge. Matured fruits may cause stains when dropped. Having a short distance between tree and pavement will minimise staining. 
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage, Ornamental Fruits, Fragrant (Flowers, Foliage) (Day)
Landscape Uses General, Roadside Tree / Palm, Coastal, Riverine, Hedge / Screening, Topiary, Bonsai, Container Planting, Parks & Gardens
Thematic Landscaping Naturalistic Garden, Formal Garden
SGMP Treatment

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting (Fruits), Butterfly Food Plant
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water, Lots of Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Saline Soils / Salt Spray, Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site), Moist Soils
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting, Marcotting, Air-Layering


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Glossy / Shiny
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Opposite
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Elliptical)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Remarks Red, Orange

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Non Palm) Woody
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Tap Root, Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) White, Cream / Off-White
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary
Flower Symmetry Radial
Flowering Period Rarely
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Red, Black
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Glossy / Shiny
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type

Image Repository



Master ID 1863
Species ID 3156
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 19 August 2022.