Jambul (Syzygium cumini) is an evergreen tropical tree in the flowering plant family Myrtaceae, native to Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Indonesia. It is also known as Jaam/Kalojaam, Jamun, Nerale Hannu, Njaval,Neredupandu, Jamblang, Jambolan, Black Plum, Damson Plum, Duhat Plum, Jambolan Plum, Java Plum or Portuguese Plum. “Malabar plum” may also refer to other species of Syzygium.
It is also grown in other areas of southern and southeastern Asia including the Philippines, Myanmar, and Afghanistan. The tree was also introduced to Florida, USA in 1911 by the USDA, and is also now commonly planted in Suriname. In Brazil, where it was introduced from India during Portuguese colonization, it has dispersed spontaneously in the wild in some places, as its fruits are eagerly sought by various native birds such as thrushes, tanagers and the Great Kiskadee. Scientific synonyms include Syzygium jambolanum, Eugenia cumini and Eugenia jambolana.
A fairly fast growing species, it can reach heights of up to 30 m and can live more than 100 years. Its dense foliage provides shade and is grown just for its ornamental value. The wood is strong and is water resistant. Because of this it is used in railway sleepers and to install motors in wells. It is sometimes used to make cheap furniture and village dwellings though it is relatively hard to work on.
Jamun trees start flowering from March to April. The flowers of Jamun are fragrant and small, about 5 mm in diameter. The fruits develop by May or June and resemble large berries. The fruit is oblong, ovoid, starts green and turns pink to shining crimson black as it matures. A variant of the tree produces white coloured fruit. The fruit has a combination of sweet, mildly sour and astringent flavour and tends to colour the tongue purple. The seed is also used in various alternative healing systems like Ayurveda (to control diabetes, for example, Unani and Chinese medicine for digestive ailments. The leaves and bark are used for controlling blood pressure and gingivitis. Wine and vinegar are also made from the fruit. It has a high source in vitamin A and vitamin C.
Jambul has been spread overseas from India by Indian emigrants and at present is common in former tropical British colonies.