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Syzygium malaccense is a species of flowering tree native to Malaysia, Indonesia (Sumatra and Java) Vietnam and Thailand. It has been introduced throughout the tropics, including many Caribbean countries and territories, such as Panama, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Suriname, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela.
Syzygium malaccense has a variety of common names. It is known as a Malay rose apple, or simply Malay apple, jambu merah (Malaysian language, meaning "red guava"), jambu bol (Indonesian, meaning "ball guava"), Malay rose apple, Otaheite cashew and pommerac (derived from pomme Malac, meaning "Malaysian apple" in French). Despite the fact that it is sometimes called the otaheite cashew, syzygium malaccense is not related to cashew – an important distinction because cashews may trigger severe allergic reactions while syzygium malaccense does not appear to cause allergic reactions.
Highly ambiguous terms, such as "rose apple", "water apple", "mountain apple", "pomarrosa" or "plum rose" are sometimes used for this plant or its fruit; they can refer to almost any species of Syzygium grown for its fruit. The name "Otaheite apple" is used, too, (in Jamaica), but is better used for the Tahitian apple (Spondias dulcis); "Otaheite" is an obsolete transcription of "Tahiti". Its Hawaiian name is ʻōhiʻa ʻai; in Tonga, it is known as fekika, and in Fiji, kavika; in Palau, it is known as rabotel (Palauan).
The combination of tree, flowers and fruit has been praised as the most beautiful of the Myrtaceae family. The fruit is oblong-shaped and dark red in color, although some varieties have white or pink skins. The flesh is white and surrounds a large seed. Jam is prepared by stewing the flesh with brown sugar and ginger.
Malay apple is a strictly tropical tree and will be damaged by freezing temperatures. It thrives in humid climates with an annual rainfall of 152 cm (60 in) or more. It can grow at a variety of altitudes, from sea level up to 2,740 m (8,990 ft). The tree can grow to 12–18 m (39–59 ft) in height. It flowers in early summer, bearing fruit three months afterward. In Costa Rica, it flowers earlier, with ripe fruit in April. Coffee growers use the species to divert birds.
In Hawaii, Syzygium malaccense is called mountain apple. The Polynesians, when they reached the Hawaiian Islands, had brought plants and animals that were important to them. The mountain apple was one of these "canoe plants" that arrived 1000 to 1700 years ago.
- "Syzygium malaccense (L.) Merr. & L. M. Perry". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2007-03-26. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
- Rance. "Cashew allergy: observations of 42 children without associated peanut allergy".
- Morton, Julia (1987). Fruits of Warm Climates. Florida Flair Books. p. 505. ISBN 978-0-9610184-1-2.
- "Malay Apple". Plant Characteristics. Pine Island Nursery.
- Whistler, W. Arthur (2009). Plants of the canoe people: an ethnobotanical voyage through Polynesia. National Tropical Botanical Garden. p. 241. ISBN 978-0-915809-00-4.
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