Bird tree: Syzygium polyanthum or salam

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Syzygium polyanthum or salam is an excellent bird tree. When in fruits, the tree is invaded by numerous birds (above: Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Treron vernans) that come to feed on the small, rounded, red to purple-black single-seeded fruits (below right). In the process, the birds help disperse the seeds. Once upon a time, children used to love eating these sweetish fruits. The aromatic leaves are used in local cooking as a spice. Besides the leaves, the bark and roots have medicinal uses.

This is a medium-sized tree of about 30 metres tall that grows in secondary forests. They have since been planted along many roads during the latter years of Singapore’s Garden City campaign. Their presence has helped bring back wildlife to the urban areas. The small flowers are in loose bunches that arise from twigs behind the leaves (above left). Cream, turning pink or reddish with age, they are faintly fragrant.

YC Wee
June 2010
(Image of Pink-necked Green Pigeons by Chan Yoke Meng; those of flowers and fruits by YC Wee)

Wee, Y. C. (2003). Tropical trees and shrubs – A selection for urban plantings. Sun Tree Pub., Singapore. 392pp.

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