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Syzygium zeylanicum


Syzygium zeylanicum (L.) DC.

Family Name: Myrtaceae
Synonyms: Jambosa longicauda Ridl., Eugenia zeylanica, Eugenia varians Miq., Myrtus zeylanica L., Syzygium spicatum (Lam.) DC., Eugenia spicata Lam.
Common Name: Spicate Eugenia, Kelat Nasi Nasi, Kelat Nenasi, Gelam Tikus, Gelam Paya, Gelam Tikus Laut, Kelat Merah, 锡兰蒲桃


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 (Small (6m-15m), Shrubby (1m-5m), Medium (16m-30m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Oval
Maximum Height 5 m to 18 m


Native Distribution From East Madagascar, through India, South China to Southeast Asia
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Secondary Rainforest, Coastal Forest, Riverine, Primary Rainforest, Mountain, Freshwater Swamp Forest), Shoreline (Sandy Beach)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Least Concern (LC))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a shrub or tree that can grow up to 18 m tall, attain 100 cm in girth size, with oval to rounded crown.
Trunk Reddish-brown and papery-flaky in mature specimens.
Foliage It has opposite, short-stalked leaves that are leathery, lance-shaped, 3–11 cm long by 1.1–5.5 cm wide, purplish pink when young, and each has a pointed leaf tip, 1 vein running parallel to the leaf margin, and 10–14 pairs of side veins. Mature leaves dark glossy green above, paler green below, with numerous secondary veins spaced 2-3 mm apart and at 80°-85° angle from midvein, veins conspicuous on upper leaf surface and slightly raised on bottom surface, intramarginal vein indistinct and around 1mm from leaf's edge; young leaves purplish to brownish pink and very glossy.
Flowers It produces bisexual flowers that are white, faintly fragrant, and found in up to 2.5–4 cm long flower clusters located at ends of its branches, or axils of its leaves.
Fruit It produces fleshy fruits that are oblong or oblong-round, 0.5–0.7 cm long, white, and each contains 1 greenish seed. The small berries ripen from greenish to white (freckled with several brownish spots), persistent sepals on base, single seed, relatively thin pulp is soft and fleshy, with fresh scent reminiscent of Syzygium aqueum (Jambu Air, Water Apple), eaten by birds, squirrels and fruit-eating animals.
Habitat It grows in lowland to montane forests, which includes secondary forests, and also in swamps, and by rivers, and seashores. In Singapore, it can be found in Central Catchment Nature Reserve, Labrador Nature Reserve, Lazarus Island, Mount. Faber, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin, and Singapore Botanic Garden.
Similar May be confused with the taller Syzygium lineatum, but the latter species can be differentiated by its bigger, matte dark green mature leaves with more closely-spaced secondary veins and distinct marginal vein, light green young leaves, larger fruits (10 - 13mm across), and pinkish-grey trunk.
Associated Fauna Its flowers produce nectar that attracts insects like bees, butterflies and day-flying moths (Syntomis huebneri). It is also the larval host plant for the Copper Flash butterfly (Rapala pheretima sequeira). Its fruits are eaten birds, squirrels, and other fruit-eating animals.
Cultivation Hardy plant, tolerates poor soils and salt spray. Propagate by seeds, stem cuttings or air-layering.
Etymology Genus epithet 'Syzygium' derived from 'syzygos' (Greek for 'joined'), alluding to the opposite paired leaves. Species epithet 'zeylanicum' refers to Ceylon (old name for Sri Lanka), where the species is also naturally distributed.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts : Edible Fruits
Food (Herb and Spice) (Fruit & Vegetable): Sweetly scented berries are edible, although there is not much pulp. 
Medicinal: Leaf Infusion used to treat diarrhoea, decoction of leaves and roots used as vermifuge, and for their anti-diabetic and anti-rheumatic properties. 
Timber & Products: Reddish-brown wood used as firewood, or for building houses, rafts and agricultural tools. 
Others: Folk legend has it that rubbing leaves on chest of elephant makes it docile.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is suitable for planting along streetscapes, parks and gardens.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Foliage, Fragrant (Flowers, Fruits) (Time Independent, Day), Ornamental Fruits, Ornamental Trunk
Landscape Uses Roadside Tree / Palm, Coastal, General, Shade Providing Tree / Palm, Parks & Gardens, Beachfront / Shoreline, Riverine
Thematic Landscaping Moonlight Garden, Naturalistic Garden
SGMP Treatment
Usage Hazard - Cons Remarks During fruiting season, numerous fleshy small berries may cause litter problem and slippery conditions.
Plant & Rootzone Preference or Tolerance Remarks Sandy soils

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

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

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade, Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Poor Infertile Soils, Saline Soils / Salt Spray, Moist Soils
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting, Air-Layering


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Glossy / Shiny, Thick
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Pink, Purple
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
Foliar Apex - Tip Acuminate
Foliar Base Cuneate
Typical Foliar Area Notophyll ( 20.25cm2 - 45 cm2 )
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Non Palm) Woody
Bark Colour(s) Reddish-brown
Mature Bark Texture Peeling / Flaking / Papery
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Tap Root, Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Cream / Off-White, White, Yellow / Golden
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary, Terminal
Flower Symmetry Radial
Inflorescence Type Panicle
Flowering Period Hot & Dry Period
Flowering Opening Time Daytime
Flower Lifespan on Plant 1 Day
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) White
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Fleshy Fruit , Berry

Image Repository



Master ID 1873
Species ID 3166
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: 15 February 2022.