The Wax Jambu

by Gene Joyner, Extension Agent I
IFAS Palm Beach County Cooperative Extension Service

The wax jambu, Syzygium samarangense (syn. javanicum) is quite popular in many area of south Florida. Native to the Malay and Southeast Asian area of the world, it does quite well in our subtropical climate. Trees are fast growing and may reach 35 to 45 feet at maturity.

The attractive dark green waxy leaves are up to six inches long and are evergreen. One-and-a-half-inch white showy flowers somewhat resembling a powder puff are produced in the early spring or sometimes late winter if it is very mild. Fruits mature during the late spring and early summer and can be red or white skinned, and are generally pear-shaped, up to about two to two-and-a-half inches in length.

The flesh inside the fruit is white, very crisp, but insipid in many varieties. Fruits often are stewed or cooked rather than eaten fresh, especially in their native areas, but there are varieties available that have good quality fruit for fresh consumption. Better varieties in the nursery industry are propagated by air layering and usually airlayered trees will begin bearing at about three to four feet in height.

Trees are cold sensitive, particularly when small, and should be protected from temperatures below freezing. Mature trees can withstand temperatures down to about 28°F for brief periods before suffering major damage.

Trees are adapted to a wide variety of soil types, but prefer soils that are acid for best growth and fruiting. In highly alkaline soils, micronutrient deficiencies often develop that must be corrected by use of nutrient sprays.

Trees have few pest problems, however the fruit is often attacked by Caribbean fruit fly. Fruit flies in some years can destroy large percentages of the maturing crop unless it is harvested somewhat before full maturity.

There are some local sales for fruit, particularly in extreme southern Florida, and homeowners that have extra fruits can find ready markets at produce stands and local flea markets. If you haven't tried this tropical fruit, it is one that certainly should be experienced.


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