Syzygium cordatum

Syzygium cordatum


Common Names

Waterbessie, waterbessieboom, waterboom, waterhout (afrikaans)
Water Berry (english)
mutu (venda)
kowa (tswana)
umdoni (zulu)
umswi, umjomi (xhosa)
mawthoo (sesotho)
motlho (n. sotho)
muhlwa (tsonga)


Genus Syzygium
Species cordatum
SA Plant Number 555
Basionym Syzygium cordatum


Syzygium cordatum is a fairly hardy, large, evergreen tree with a dense, spreading, rounded crown. 

It has smooth bark with bands and blotches on it - smooth and white whilst young and turning darker grey and rough with age.

It has attractive thick, leathery, round, bluish-green leaves which are red when young.

The scented, creamy-white to pink flowers with conspicuous fluffy stamens are borne in heads at the end of branches throughout summer, and are followed by edible, purple, fleshy fruits, which attract birds, and also make a good wine.

A lovely, decorative shade tree for the larger garden that needs water to grow its best. It has aggressive roots and should be kept away from walls and pools.

 The flowers have copious nectar and attract birds, bees, butterflies and other insects. It is said to be an indicator of ground water and is fire resistant. Added to this, it also has many medicinal and magical uses. 

Size 8 to 15m


Butterfly Host Plant:

Syzygium cordatum is the larval host plant of 3 species of butterfly - Silver-barred Charaxes, Morant’s Orange and the Apricot playboy.



The fleshy fruit is edible, slightly acid in flavour, and is eaten by children, monkeys, bush-babies and birds. The berries are also used to sometimes make an alcoholic drink. The powdered bark is used as a fish poison. In central Africa the tree is known as a remedy for stomach ache and diarrhoea. It is also used to treat respiratory ailments and tuberculosis


Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu Natal, Eastern Cape


Grassland, Woodland


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