Syzygium polyanthum (Wight) Walp.

Etymology Genus After Laurent Garcen, a 18th century French botanist
Species From the common name Mangosteen
Family Myrtaceae
Synonyms Eugenia polyantha Wight
Common Names Salam
Status Native: Vulnerable
Form Tree
Native Distribution Indochina, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia


Syzygium polyanthum can be easily identified from its sparse yet well distributed crown (this requires some experience). The bark is greyish and cracking. The leaves are the most diagnostic: being oppositely arranged, elliptic, and have secondary venation that is close-looped. It smells distinctively of Jambu when the leaves are crushed.

Interesting Facts:

The Salam has consistently been one of the most commonly planted trees in Singapore. In both 1997 and 2013, it was ranked 14th in cultivated abundance (Timothy, 2013). It is also seemingly common in secondary forests. Birds love them for the fruits; and for this reason, it will be really unfortunate for car owners to park their vehicles underneath them during the fruiting season. I have seen this first-handed; avoid at all costs!

A large Salam in Bukit Brown Cemetery.

A smaller, cultivated Salam at a carpark.

Characteristic "cracking" bark.

Most important feature is the shape and venation.

Typical branching.

Flowers are small and white.

Fruits which ripen to red.

A male Asian Koel feeding on the fruit.


Timothy A. (2013) Living in a Garden: the Greening of Singapore. National Parks Board, Singapore. 200 pp.

Author: Jake
Posted: 2014-09-07 / Modified: 2017-12-25