Syzygium (Syzygium pondoense)

Syzygium pondoense in flower
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Syzygium fact file

Syzygium description

GenusSyzygium (1)

Found only in South Africa, Syzygium pondoense is a fairly rare species which grows as a woody shrub or a small tree. Ithas a distinctive mass of showy, sweet-scented, white flowers, with numerous stamens, which appear at the ends of the branches (2) (3) (4). Syzygium pondoense produces numerous, large, fleshy, red to purple berries during the autumn (3) (4).

The leathery leaves of Syzygium pondoense are arranged in opposite pairs, and are usually dark green on the upper side and paler below, with a conspicuous midrib and prominent reddish veins. New shoots and young leaves are generally reddish (2). The single stem has reddish-brown bark, turning grey to whitish as the plant ages (2) (4).

Height: up to 3 m (2)

Syzygium biology

Very little specific information is available about the biology of Syzygium pondoense. It flowers in early summer and bears fruit in the autumn (2), although these are not produced until the plant is at least two years old (4).

The genus Syzygium has several medicinal properties. A compound can be extracted from the buds of the plants, which is known to have antiviral activity against the Herpes simplex virus, while bark infusions using Syzygium species are thought to ease pain and coughing (2).


Syzygium range

Syzygium pondoense is found along the Umtamvuna River in southern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, as well as in a number of river valleys in the Port Shepstone area, including the Lusikisiki and Bizana Districts of the Transkei in the Eastern Cape (1) (2).


Syzygium habitat

Syzygium pondoense is confined to sandstone soils and is usually found growing among sandstone boulders and rocks in stream or river beds (1) (2) (4).


Syzygium status

Syzygium pondoense is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Syzygium threats

Syzygium pondoense is threatened by periodic flooding of its low-lying river valley habitat. Floods in 1978 destroyed most of this species’ population in the Umtamvuna River Valley, although the population has now somewhat recovered. Climate change is likely to exacerbate the effects of extreme weather events, such as drought and flooding, and may further affect this species in future (1).

Subpopulations of Syzygium pondoense are also threatened by increasing settlement in the remaining areas of its range, as well as by cutting for firewood and timber (1).


Syzygium conservation

There are no known conservation measures currently targeted at Syzygium pondoense.


Find out more

Find out more about Syzygium pondoense:

Find out more about South African plant conservation:



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A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
The vein in the centre of a leaf.
The male reproductive organs of a flower. Each stamen is comprised of an anther (the pollen-producing organ) and a filament (stalk).


  1. IUCN Red List (May, 2011)
  2. PlantZAfrica - Syzygium pondoense (May, 2011)
  3. Witbos Nursery - Syzygium pondoense (May, 2011)
  4. Nichols, G., Johnson, D. and Johnson, S. (2006) Down to Earth: Gardening with Indigenous Shrubs. Struik Publishers, South Africa. 

Image credit

Syzygium pondoense in flower  
Syzygium pondoense in flower

© Colin Paterson-Jones /

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