“Hinga dhanva binnaha. Baivaro ebathee” (lets go to pluck Jambolan fruit. there are loads now), this is a typical request among the youngsters during the season of this savory fruit. Plucking the fruit of this tree is a fun for many people especially youngsters, who set off to “dhambo val” – the thick vegetation of the area where these tree are in abundance.
Those who are skilled, quick and experienced will climb up the tree in a shot. Crawling, they will pluck clusters of the fruits and collect into bags. While plucking, they eat the fruits. Their mouth is full of fruits and tongues stained in dark purple. “Drop me. There is a cluster. drop me some,” those who wait under the trees beg for fruits as the guys in the trees are obsessed in eating the fruit. The tree branches are so strong that even the small thin branches bend like carbon fishing rods while the guys crawl and walk along the tree branches. Some daring boys climb up the top most branches. Accidents have happened while indulging in this fun. Some boys have fallen from the trees and inflicted serious bodily injuries. But the joy and the natural aerial view while on the top branches are amazing.
You can witness the tranquil taro fields, coconut trees, ferns and many other species of flora. Cackling and giggling of the moorhen will tenderly touch your ear drums. I have experienced this view. It is a great moment i can never forget. The delicate and mysterious creation of god is purely an amazement a human being cannot forget. The glimpse and unforgettable moments of this experience will engraved in the heart of one’s life for eternity.
The international common names for this tree is: black plum tree; Indian blackberry; jambolan; jambolan; jamun; java plum; Java plumtree; Malabar plum; Portuguese plum. The fruits of this tree appear like berries with an oblong shape similar to Kalamata olives. The fruit has a dark purple to almost black skin with a starkly contrasting pink or white flesh. Fruit appear in clusters of just a few or 10-40, are round or oblong, often curved, 1.25-5 cm long, turning from green to light-magenta, then dark-purple or nearly black, although a white-fruited form has been reported in Indonesia.
The flesh is extremely juicy and has a flavor that combines sweet and tart with a slightly astringent aftertaste. The skin is thin, smooth, glossy, and adherent. The pulp is purple or white, very juicy, and normally encloses a single, oblong, green or brown seed, up to 4 cm long, though some fruits have 2-5 seeds tightly compressed within a leathery coat, and some are seedless. The fruit is usually astringent, sometimes unpalatably so, and the flavour varies from acid to fairly sweet. The fruit contains a hard seed which should be discarded. When eaten, the dark-colored skin leaves a stain on the lips and mouth that can last for several hours.
Lying closest to the equator, Fuvahmulah is well adapted to plant species. One of the specialist trees that you can find in abundance is the dhambo val, or the trees of jambolan. The scientific name for this tree is Syzygium cumini (S. cumini) (L.) Fuvahmulah has the largest reserve of this great trees in the Maldives.
Jambolan is a large evergreen and densely foliaceous tree with greyish-brown thick bark, exfoliating in woody scales. The wood is whitish, close grained and durable. The leaves are leathery, oblong-ovate to elliptic or obovate-elliptic with 6 to 12 centimeters long (extremely variable in shape, smooth and shining with numerous nerves uniting within the margin), the tip being broad and less acuminate. The panicles are borne mostly from the branchlets below the leaves, often being axillary or terminal, and are 4 to 6 centimeters long.
The genus Syzygium is one of the genera of the myrtle family Myrtaceae which is native to the tropics, particularly to tropical America and Australia. It has a worldwide, although highly uneven, distribution in tropical and subtropical regions. The genus comprises about 1 100 species, and has a native range that extends from Africa and Madagascar through southern Asia east through the Pacific.
It is a multipurpose tree which is highly valued for its medicinal uses, edible fruits, for fodder, for strong heavy timber and good fuelwood.
Syzygium cumini is also known as jambul/jambhul/jambula/jamboola, Java plum, jamun, jaam/kalojaam, jamblang, jambolan, black plum, Damson plum, Duhat plum, Jambolan plum or Portuguese plum. Malabar plum may also refer to other species of Syzygium. This fruit is called Jamun inKonkani, Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi, Jambhul in Marathi, Naaval Pazham in Tamil, Naaval Pazham in Malayalam,  9;Nerale Hannu inKannada,Neredu Pandu[à°¨à±†à°°à±‡à°¡à± à°ªà°‚à°¡à±] in Telugu, Kalojam or Jam in Bengali, Jamukoli in Oriya and Jambu in Gujarat. In thePhilippines, common names include duhat in the Tagalog-speaking regions, lomboy in the Cebuano-speaking areas, lumboy in Northern Luzonand inobog in Maguindanao. It is called Dhanbu in Maldives and Dhuwet/Juwet in Javanese. Among its names in Portuguese are jamelà£o ‘,jambo, jambolà£o, jalà£o, joà£o-bolà£o, manjelà£o, azeitona-preta, baga-de-freira, brinco-de-viàºva and guapàª, always with lower case, the early four derived from the Konkani name jambulan. They are called rotra in the Malagasy language of Madagascar. It is called reyang dut orkrian dot in Malay especially in the northern part of the Malay Peninsula.
History and distribution
It is one of the best known species and it is very often cultivated. It is commonly known as jambolan, black plum, jamun, java plum, Indian blackberry, Portuguese plum, Malabar plum, purple plum, Jamaica and damson plum. For long in the period of recorded history, the tree is known to have grown in the Indian sub-continent, and many others adjoin regions of South Asia such as India, Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. It was long ago introduced into and became naturalized in Malaysia. In southern Asia, the tree is venerated by Buddhists, and it is commonly planted near Hindu temples because it is considered sacred to Lord Krishna. The plant has also been introduced to many different places where it has been utilized as a fruit producer, as an ornamental and also for its timber. In India, the plant is available throughout the plains from the Himalayas to southern India.
Flowers are scented, greenish-white, in clusters of just a few or 10 to 40 and are round or oblong in shape and found in dichotomous paniculate cymes. The calyx is funnel-shaped, about 4 millimeters long, and toothed. The petals cohere and fall all together as a small disk. The stamens are numerous and about as long as the calyx. Several types, which differ in colour and size of fruits, including some improved races bearing purple to violet or white coloured flesh and seedless fruits have been developed. The fruits are berries and are often obviously oblong, 1.5 to 3.5 centimeters long, dark-purple or nearly black, luscious, fleshy, and edible; it contains a single large seed. The flowers are rich in kaempferol, quercetin, myricetin, isoquercetin (quercetin-3-glucoside), myricetin-3-L-arabinoside, quercetin-3-D-galactoside, dihydromyricetin, oleanolic acid, acetyl oleanolic acid, eugenol-triterpenoid A and eugenol-triterpenoid B.
“Plums” – the fruit
The plant produces small purple plums, which have a very sweet flavor, turning slightly astringent on the edges of the pulp as the fruit becomes mature. The dark violet colored ripe fruits give the impression the fruit of the olive tree both in weight and shape and have an astringent taste. The fruit has a combination of sweet, mildly sour and astringent flavour and tends to colour the tongue purple.
The fruits are rich in raffinose, glucose, fructose, citric acid, mallic acid, gallic acid, anthocyanins; delphinidin-3-gentiobioside, malvidin-3-laminaribioside, petunidin-3-gentiobioside, cyanidin diglycoside, petunidin and malvidin. The sourness of fruits may be due to presence of gallic acid. The color of the fruits might be due to the presence of anthocyanins. The peel powder of jambolan also can be employed as a colorant for foods and pharmaceuticals and anthocyanin pigments from fruit peels were studied for their antioxidant efficacy stability as extract and in formulations.
The leaves are rich in acylated flavonol glycosides, quercetin, myricetin, myricitin, myricetin 3-O-4-acetyl-L-rhamnopyranoside, triterpenoids, esterase, galloyl carboxylase, and tannin.
The stem bark is rich in betulinic acid, friedelin, epi-friedelanol, β-sitosterol, eugenin and fatty acid ester of epi-friedelanol, β-sitosterol, quercetin kaempferol, myricetin, gallic acid and ellagic acid, bergenins, flavonoids and tannins. The presence of gallo- and ellagi-tannins may be responsible for the astringent property of stem bark.
The roots are rich in flavonoid glycosides and isorhamnetin 3-O-rutinoside.
The bark is acrid, sweet, digestive, astringent to the bowels, anthelmintic and used for the treatment of sore throat, bronchitis, asthma, thirst, biliousness, dysentery and ulcers. It is also a good blood purifier. The fruit is acrid, sweet, cooling and astringent to the bowels and removes bad smell form mouth, biliousness, stomachic, astringent, diuretic and antidiabetic. The fruit has a very long history of use for various medicinal purposes and currently has a large market for the treatment of chronic diarrhea and other enteric disorders. The seed is sweet, astringent to the bowels and good for diabetes. The ash of the leaves is used for strengthening the teeth and gums. Vinegar prepared from the juice of the ripe fruit is an agreeable stomachic and carminative and used as diuretic and it is also useful in spleen enlargement and an efficient astringent in chronic diarrhea.
Juice of tender leaves of this plant, leaves of mango and myrobalan are mixed and administered along with goat’s milk and honey to treat dysentery with bloody discharge, whereas juice of tender leaves alone or in combination with carminatives such as cardamom or cinnamon is given in goat’s milk to treat diarrhoea in children. Traditional medical healers in Madagascar have been using the seeds of jambolan for generations as the centerpiece of an effective therapy for counteracting the slow debilitating impacts of diabetes. The seed extract is used to treat cold, cough, fever and skin problems such as rashes and the mouth, throat, intestines and genitourinary tract ulcers (infected by Candida albicans) by the villagers of Tamil Nadu. Jambolan fruit can be eaten raw and can be made into tarts, sauces and jams. Good quality jambolan juice is excellent for sherbet, syrup and “squash”, an Indian drink.
Jamun fruit is used as a treatment in Ayurvedic medicine in India for a variety of ailments. The rich, dark color of the berry is the result of anthocyanins in the skin. This phytonutrient provides ample antioxidants as well. Jamun also contains vitamins A and C, folic acid, potassium, zinc and iron, among others. In Ayurvedic medicine, the berries and other parts of the Jamun tree are used to treat anemia, digestive issues, respiratory infections and is also used to regulate one’s heartbeat.
It is is one of the widely used medicinal plants in the treatment of various diseases in particular diabetes. The plant has been viewed as an antidiabetic plant since it became commercially available several decades ago. During last four decades, numerous folk medicine and scientific reports on the antidiabetic effects of this plant have been cited in the literature. The plant is rich in compounds containing anthocyanins, glucoside, ellagic acid, isoquercetin, kaemferol and myrecetin. The seeds are claimed to contain alkaloid, jambosine, and glycoside jambolin or antimellin, which halts the diastatic conversion of starch into sugar.
Uses in traditional medicine
Plants of this family are known to be rich in volatile oils which are reported for their uses in medicine and many fruits of the family have a rich history of uses both as edibles and as traditional medicines in divergent ethnobotanical practices throughout the tropical and subtropical world.
All parts of the jambolan can be used medicinally and it has a long tradition in alternative medicine. From all over the world, the fruits have been used for a wide variety of ailments, including cough, diabetes, dysentery, inflammation and ringworm. It is also an ancient medicinal plant with an illustrious medical history and has been the subject of classical reviews for over 100 years. It is widely distributed throughout India and ayurvedic medicine (Indian folk medicine) mentions its use for the treatment of diabetes mellitus. Various traditional practitioners in India use the different parts of the plant in the treatment of diabetes, blisters in mouth, cancer, colic, diarrhea, digestive complaints, dysentery, piles, pimples and stomachache. During last four decades, numerous folk medicinal reports on the antidiabetic effects of this plant have been cited in the literature. In Unani medicine various parts of jambolan act as liver tonic, enrich blood, strengthen teeth and gums and form good lotion for removing ringworm infection of the head.
Jamun fruit is eaten fresh, off the tree. Because of the astringent taste, the dark berries are often eaten with a sprinkle of salt when fresh. Jamun fruit are used to make jams and jellies, wine and other beverages. Blend chopped Jamun fruit with yogurt or fresh curd, sugar and vanilla extract for a smoothie. The berries are cooked down with water and sugar for preserves. Unripened fruit can be used to make wine or vinegar.
Folk medicinal uses
The plant has been viewed as an antidiabetic plant since it became commercially available several decades ago. In the early 1960s to 1970s, some preliminary reports on the antidiabetic activity of different parts of jambolan in diabetic animals were reported. Most of these studies have been conducted using crude preparation of the plant without pointing out their chemical profile and antidiabetic action in animals is not fully understood. A number of herbal formulations were also prepared in combination with this plant available in market which showed potential antidiabetic activity and are used regularly by diabetic patients on the advice of the physicians. Different parts of the jambolan were also reported for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuropsycho-pharmacological, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-HIV, antileishmanial and antifungal, nitric oxide scavenging, free radical scavenging, anti-diarrheal, antifertility, anorexigenic, gastroprotective and anti-ulcerogenic and radioprotective activities.
Pharmacological actions of jambolan
Different parts of the jambolan especially fruits, seeds and stem bark possess promising activity against diabetes mellitus and it has been confirmed by several experimental and clinical studies. In the early 1960s to 1970s, Chirvan-Nia and Ratsimamanga, Sigogneau-Jagodzinski et al, Lal and Choudhuri, Shrotri et al, Bose and Sepha and Vaish reported the antidiabetic activity of various parts of jambolan in diabetic animals. Tea prepared from leaves of jambolan was reported to have antihyperglycemic effect. The stem bark of the plant could induce the appearance of positive insulin staining cells in the epithelia of the pancreatic duct of treated animals and a significant decrease in blood glucose levels was also observed in mice treated with the stem bark by oral glucose tolerance test. Many clinical and experimental studies suggest that, different parts of the jambolan especially fruits and seeds possess promising activity against diabetes mellitus.
Despite tremendous advancements have been made in the field of diabetic treatments, several earlier investigations have been reported from the different parts of jambolan with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuropsycho-pharmacological, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-HIV, antileishmanial and antifungal, nitric oxide scavenging, free radical scavenging, anti-diarrheal, antifertility, anorexigenic, gastroprotective and anti-ulcerogenic, behavioural effects and radioprotective activities. Besides the above, the effect of various concentrations of the leaf extracts of the plant on the radiation-induced micronuclei formation was studied by Jagetia and Baliga.
Interesting health benefits of jamun you must know
- Good for diabetics: Jamun is used to treat diabetes by several traditional practitioners. Scientifically, it has a low glycaemic index, making it a good option for diabetics. A study published in the Complement Ther Med reviewed literature on anti-diabetic effects of jamun, suggesting that it holds significant potential to produce safer drugs for diabetes treatment . Another study showed that jamun seeds could lower blood sugar levels by 30% . The fruit is associated with lowered risk of secondary complications of diabetes.
- Improves immunity and bone strength: The fruit also has healthy amount of nutrients like calcium, iron, potassium and Vitamin C, which makes it great for boosting immunity and bone strength. Besides jamun, you can eat these foods to improve your immunity without spending too much.
- Keeps heart disease at bay: Jamun is loaded with nutrients like ellagic acid/ellagitannins, anthocyanins and anthocyanidins that confer upon them potent anti-inflammatory property . These compounds are also powerful antioxidants that prevent oxidation of cholesterol and plaque formation that contributes to heart disease. Besides, the fruit is also a rich source of potassium (a 100g serving of jamun fruits contains 55 mg of potassium) that helps prevent hypertension, a risk factor for heart disease.
- Treats infections: Traditionally, different parts of the jaumun plant (leaves, bark and seeds) have been used for treating bacterial infections. The plant stores compounds like malic acid, gallic acid, oxalic acid and tannins which gives the plant as well as the fruits being antimalarial, antibacterial and gastroprotective properties.
- Aids digestion and oral health: Leaves of the Jamun tree have been traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat diarrhoea and ulcers. They also have anti-bacterial properties and are thus used in many medicines for treating oral health problems.
- May help prevent cancer: Several studies have investigated chemoprotective properties of the jamun. According to a study by Jagetia GC and colleagues the fruit extract has radioprotective properties, demonstrating that jamun extract inhibited radiation induced generation of free radicals that can cause cancer.
What WebMD says about this tree:
Jambolan is widely used in folk medicine for diabetes.
Some people use jambolan as an aphrodisiac to increase interest in sexual activity, and as a tonic.