Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Eugenia latifolia

Curtis's Botanical Magazine 4408 vol.LXXIV (1848)
Malay Apple

Eugenia latifolia Aubl., 1775.
Eugenia latifolia Sagot. = Eugenia wullschlaegeliana Amshoff 1953
Eugenia latifolia Spreng. ex DC. (non Aubl.)

Three homonyms for this combination. Difficult to know which plant is referred in 1890 report of Monserrate's plants. In the days before Linnaeus invented the binomial system botanists would describe plants with almost a paragraph of Latin. Here is an example from Hortus Kewensis or a catalogue of the plants cultivated in The Royal Botanic Garden at Kew, by the late William Aiton, second edition enlarged by William Townsend Aiton, Gardener to his Majesty. 1811. The old fashioned paragraph name is cited first, followed by the modern.

E. foliis integerrimis ovato-oblongis acuminatis
reticulato-venosis, pedunculis unifloris subternis axillaribus : fructiferis nutantibus.

Willden. sp. pl. 2. p. 963.
Eugenia latifolia. Aubl. guian. 1. p. 502. t. 199.
Broad-leaved Eugenia.
Nat. of Guiana. Mr. Alex. Anderson.
Introd. 1793, in H. M. S. Providence, by Capt. William Bligh.

In the process we learn of the plants romantic history - introduced by Capt. Bligh - of Mutiny and Breadfruit fame.

So if we take this as our choice from the three homonyms what do we get?

Eugenia latifolia Aubl. Histoire des plantes de la Guiane Françoise 1: 502, t. 199. 1775. (Hist. Pl. Guiane)
Mobot gives the accepted name for this combination as
Calycorectes latifolius (Aubl.) O. Berg

However there seem to be no European references to plants cultivated under any of these names. (One Californian sources gives E. smithiana as a synonym, but this is also not substantiated elsewhere). My instinct is to trust to romance and seek out just what did Captain Bligh carry on the Providence as well as Breadfruit.

OTAHEITE APPLE sb bot; OED 1858 -.
The tree Eugenia malaccensis and its fruit, introduced into Jamaica in 1793.
1794 Broughton 17, Eugenia nov. Sp. Otaheite Apple (from) Otaheite (brought in) H.M.S. Providence, 1793. A very handsome tree with large, shining, leathery leaves, and particularly so when its branches are covered with a profusion of crimson flowers. The fruit is pear-shaped, bright red in colour with a white pithy pulp.

The plate shows a handsome wide leaves (Latifolia?)

Most present-day botanists (though not all of them) seem to use Syzigium malaccense (L.) Merr. & Perry as the accepted name.

Syzygium malaccense (L.) Merr. & L.M. Perry

Eugenia macrophylla Lam. (Larged leaved)
Eugenia malaccensis L.
Jambos malaccensis DC.
Jambosa domestica Blume
Jambosa malaccensis (L.) DC.

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