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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Umdoni (Syzygium cordatum)

Family Myrtaceae 
Birds, monkeys and insects feed on the berries when ripe.
Distribution

It occurs along streambanks from Kwazulu-Natal northwards to Mozambique. It grows in forest margins, in bush or open grassy and sometimes high country.
Description

An evergreen, water-loving tree, which grows to a height of 8 -15 m. This tree is often found near streams, on forest margins or in swampy spots. The leaves are elliptic to circular, bluish green on top and a paler green below. Young leaves are reddish. The white to pinkish fragrant flowers are borne in branched terminals and have numerous fluffy stamens and produce abundant nectar. It flowers from August to November. The fruits are oval berries, red to dark-purple when ripe.
Ecology
According to Palmer and Pitman (1972), one of the only two nesting sites of the Woolly-necked Stork known in South Africa is in an umdoni swamp forest near Mtunzini. The foliage of this tree is eaten by Kudu and birds such as the Crowned Hornbill feed off the large hairy caterpillars that sometimes infest the tree.
Uses and cultural aspects

This tree is known for its many uses. The fleshy fruit is slightly acid in flavour and is eaten by children, monkeys, bush-babies and birds. The berries are also used to sometimes make an alcoholic drink. The powdered bark is used as a fish poison. In central Africa the tree is known as a remedy for stomach ache and diarrhoea. It is also used to treat respiratory ailments and tuberculosis.