The species is native to Africa (Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Zaire), where it grows at the edge of wet forests, wetlands and coastal sandy areas, predominantly near lakes and waterways.
The genus name is the combination of Greek terms “sys” = together and “zygon” = yoke, with reference to petals united in some species; the Latin name “cordatum” = heart-shaped, refers to the shape of the base of the leaf.
Common names: umbrellas, water-berry, watertree, waterwood (English); water-bessie (Afrikaans); timuncho (Portuguese); mzambarau ziwa, myamayu, mlati (swali).
The Syzygium cordatum Hochst. former Krauss (1844) is an evergreen shrub or tree, up to about 15 m high, from the dark brown bark, wrinkled and sliced in the old specimens, dense, rounded; the young branches are quadrangular.
The leaves, concentrated in the terminal part of the branches, are opposed, almost sessile (without petiole), subrotonde or elliptic-cordata, of 3-12 cm in length and 2-7 cm in width, coriacee, of bluish green glossy shiny above , pale green below; young shoots are red in color.
Inflorescence at the end tops carrying numerous hermaphrodite flowers on a short peduncle, scented, white, yellowish or rosé, with petals joined to form a kind of hood that drops at the time of opening and stays 1-1.5 cm long are the most striking part of the flower.
The fruit is an oblong or urn shaped bush, 1.8 x 1 cm, blackish purple color containing generally only one whitish seed. It is generally reproduced for seed which has a very short germinability period and is then housed in sandy soil kept damp in the shortest possible time; germination takes about one month at 20-22 ° C.
Fruits are edible, rather acidic, freshly consumed or used to prepare alcoholic beverages and jams.
Of course, ornamental value, for shiny foliage and abundant flowering, is sometimes used as a shrub tree or border barrier; also has a remarkable fire resistance.
The flowers, rich in nectar, are pollinated by insects, especially bees, and therefore play an important role in bee-keeping.
Fine grain, medium hard and durable, long life in water and good workability, is used to fabricate items of common use, tools, furniture, boats and constructions; it is also a good wood to burn and to produce coal.
All parts of the plant are widely used in traditional medicine.
Species of fast growing growth in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate areas, where it can withstand temperatures of a few degrees below 0 ° C for a short time.
It requires exposure to full sun and draining soils with wide availability of water, especially during the warmer months.
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