Myrtus canescens Lour.
Myrtus tomentosa Ait.
Common Name: Downy Rose Myrtle
Photograph by: Kware Ji
Downy rose myrtle is an evergreen shrub or small tree, growing 1 - 4 metres tall[
The plant is often cultivated in the tropics and subtropics, both as an ornamental and for its edible fruit[
E. Asia - China, southern Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines.
Thrives in open, often degraded sandy sites, along the shore and on river banks. Where it grows, other plants seem not to be able to compete with it, hence almost pure stands exist[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
Plants can succeed in tropical and subtropical climates at altitudes up to 2,440 metres[
]. They require an annual rainfall that exceeds 1,200mm[
]. Plants can tolerate occasional temperatures dropping to as low as -6°c[
Requires a sunny position in a well-drained but moisture-retentive lime-free soil[
]. Prefers a soil with a pH in the range 4 - 6[
]. Plants can tolerate occasional flooding[
There are two main forms of the plant. Var. tomentosa is generally found in more harsh environments, up to elevations of 300 metres and rarely up to 1,300 metres[
]. On the other hand, var. parviflora occurs in montane woodlands and grassland at altitudes of 1,800 - 2,700 metres[
The plant has escaped from cultivation and become invasive in some of the areas it has been introduced to[
Seedling plants can commence bearing fruit when 3 - 4 years old[
], whilst plants raised through cuttings will bear fruit in about 2 years[
Fruit - usually eaten raw, they are also made into pies and jellies[
]. The fully ripe fruit is sweet and much liked by children[
]. It is somewhat astringent before it is fully ripe[
]. The purple oblong fruit is up to 15mm long and 10mm wide[
The fruit has been used as a cure for dysentery and diarrhoea[
A decoction of the roots or leaves is drunk as a treatment for diarrhoea and stomach-ache, and as a protective medicine after birth[
The crushed leaves are used to dress wounds[
The wood-tar can serve as a black dye and has been used to blacken teeth and eyebrows[
Seed - best sown fresh. Remove the seed from the fruit pulp before sowing[
Division of crowns.
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