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(Syzygium cumini, Eugenia jambolana)

Other Names: Jambu, Jambool, Java plum, Jamun, Jamblang, Neredupandu, Indian blackberry, Duhat plum, Black plum

The jambolan is fast-growing, reaching full size in 40 years. It can grow up to 30 m and attain a spread of 11 m and a trunk diameter of 1 m. It usually forks into multiple trunks a short distance from the ground. The bark on the lower part of the tree is rough, cracked, flaking and discoloured; further up it is smooth and light-grey. The turpentine-scented evergreen leaves are opposite 5-25 cm long, 2.5-10 cm wide; oblong or elliptic, blunt or tapering to a point at the apex; pinkish when young; when mature, leathery, glossy, dark-green above, lighter beneath. The fruit, in clusters of just a few or 10 to 40, is round or oblong, often curved 1.5-5 cm long, and usually turns from green to purple or nearly black as it ripens. The skin is thin, smooth, glossy, and adherent. The pulp is purple or white, very juicy, and normally encloses a single, oblong, green or brown seed, up to 4 cm in length, though some fruits have 2 to 5 seeds tightly compressed within a leathery coat, and some are seedless. The fruit is usually astringent, sometimes unpalatably so, and the flavour varies from acid to very sweet.

Jambolans of good size and quality, having a sweet or subacid flavour and a minimum of astringency, are eaten raw and may be made into tarts, sauces and jam.

Cooked to a thick jam, jambolan is eaten to allay acute diarrhea. The juice of the ripe fruit, or a decoction of the fruit, or jambolan vinegar, may be administered in India in cases of enlargement of the spleen, chronic diarrhea and urine retention. Water-diluted juice is used as a gargle for sore throat and as a lotion for ringworm of the scalp.

The jambolan tree is sub tropical, it prospers on river banks and has been known to withstand prolonged flooding. Yet it is tolerant of drought after it has made some growth. Dry weather is desirable during the flowering and fruiting periods. It is sensitive to frost when young.

Despite its ability to thrive in low, wet areas, the tree does well on higher, well-drained land whether it be in loam, marl, sand or oolitic limestone.

Jambolan seeds lose viability quickly. They are the most common means of dissemination and germinate in approximately 2 weeks.

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