DixPix Photographs





Within the maze of botanical nomenclature, the Myrtle Order Myrtales and the Mallow Order, Malvales are somewhat related, along with an order known as Sapindales.  This is based on DNA.

We start with the Myrtle Family, Myrtaceae, itself.  This is a fairly large one, with over 5600 species divided into perhaps 150 genera.  In addition to myrtle plants; eucalyptus, cloves and guava are family gifts. 


Syzygium malaccense is native to Malaysia and western Indonesia, although now more widely planted. Among other names is Malay Apple, but in its home range the fruit is called Jambu Merah or Jambu bol, translating as 'red guava' and 'ball guava'. Click to see big picture (402x480 pixels; 99 KB)
Syzygium jambos is of southeast Asian origin, but widely planted, naturalized, and invasive in some areas.  Note that some authorities use Eugenia instead of the tongue-twisting Syzygium genus. Click to see big picture (447x480 pixels; 66 KB)
The fruit of S. jambos is known as the Malabar Plum, and is said to have a delicate 'rose-water' taste.  The Indonesian name is Jambu mawar. Click to see big picture (527x480 pixels; 95 KB)
Syzygium cumini is widely planted from its native southeast Asia.  Indonesians use names such as Jamblang while in English it is known as Java Plum and this example is planted in Panama where it goes by Jambul.  Edible and tasty.
The term Water Apple can apply to the fruit of any of the Syzygium genus, especially S. aqueum and S. samarangense  They are indeed mostly water, with a retiring taste.  Indonesians call it Jambu air semarang. Click to see big picture (607x480 pixels; 83 KB)
Syzygium grande is mainly found in Malaysia and Indonesia, where it is known as Jambu laut.  Its fruit is sometimes called the Sea Apple. Click to see big picture (531x480 pixels; 100 KB)
Jumping to timberline on Mt. Kinabalu, this is Leptospermum recurvum, which is known as Sayat-sayat. Click to see big picture (640x435 pixels; 100 KB)
The many species of Eucalyptus trees are centered in Australia, but several species have been kidnapped and are planted far and wide.  Of special note is the Rainbow Eucalyptus, E. deglupta, grown for both its appearance and for timber. Click to see big picture (246x480 pixels; 53 KB)
Switching to the Combretaceae or Leadwood Family, this is the fruit of Terminalia catappa which is known as Sea Almonds.  It is a mangrove tree, and these seeds float, spreading the species to tropical beaches.  They are also edible.  Click to see big picture (497x480 pixels; 83 KB)
The sea almond tree itself in unusual.  In some cases it lies on or near the ground and lets some of its branches turn into trees on their own right.  The reddish, water-resistant wood is also appreciated. Click to see big picture (613x480 pixels; 149 KB)

The Melastomataceae Family is a large and difficult one, with approximately 200 genera and perhaps 4500 species to date.  Many have leaves with parallel veins.  The family is more important in the Neotropics than southeast Asia.


The Malabar Gooseberry is also known as the Straits Rhododendron, although related to neither.  Melastoma malabathricum is a weed, albeit a handsome one, through much of southeast Asia, where it is widely known as Senduduk. Click to see big picture (608x480 pixels; 89 KB)
Both the leaves and fruit of Senduduk are edible, and the seeds are used for a black dye, while the roots yield a pink one. Click to see big picture (630x480 pixels; 107 KB)
A Brazilian in Sarawak.  The Princess Flower or Glory Bush (Tibouchina urvilleana) has become a globe-trotting invasive weed throughout the tropics. Click to see big picture (624x480 pixels; 127 KB)
Medinilla speciosa adorns the mountains of Borneo and Java, in this case in the Kinabalu area. Click to see big picture (342x480 pixels; 85 KB)
Also on lower Kinabalu, this would be some species of the Sonerila genus. Click to see big picture (478x480 pixels; 75 KB)

The Mallow Family, Malvaceae, has recently gobbled a few other families and now contains about 220 general and 2300 species. It involves several popular garden flowers and a few edibles.


The biggest genus in the mallows is the Hibiscus, some 250-300 species.  Surely one of the most striking is Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, which is the National flower of Malaysia, where it is known as Bunga Raya.  Indonesians call it Kembang Sepatu. Click to see big picture (616x480 pixels; 95 KB)
The Yellow Hibiscus or Portia Tree, Thespesia populnea, is an Asian Native, but now a pan-tropic coastal invasive.  It is known as Waru Laut in Indonesian and as Bebaru in the Malaysian form of bahasa. Click to see big picture (531x480 pixels; 93 KB)
This is the fruit of the Yellow Hibiscus Tree, which is used in folk medicine to cure pimples. Click to see big picture (394x480 pixels; 91 KB)
The odorous Durian, Durio zibethinus, can also be blamed on the Mallow Family and on the Indonesian region.  This is discussed in more detail under yetch!  Click to see big picture (640x421 pixels; 106 KB)
The native range of the Cacao Tree, source of chocolate, runs from Mexico to the Amazon.  Theobroma cacao, however, has been planted widely in the tropics, including in Indonesia and Malaysia, where it has the same name, but written Kakao. Click to see big picture (640x450 pixels; 101 KB)
The noble Bombacaceae family has now been drowned in the Mallows, including the Kapok (cotton) Tree.  This one in Sumatra is likely Ceiba pentranda, which is neotropical, but is so widely planted in southeast Asia that the cotton is often called Java kapok.  In bahasa it is known as Kapuk Randu. kapok
Bixa orellana of the Bixaceae Family hales from tropical America, where it is known as Anatto and is used for a red dye.  It was introduced into the Indonesian region in the 17th century, and is widely used as living fences, under the name of Kesumba. Click to see big picture (565x480 pixels; 106 KB)

The Sapindales order is named for the Sapindaceae, which is usually called the Soapberry Family, but now that it has absorbed the better known Maple Family, maybe the name should change.


Nephelium lappaceum is the latin handle for the tree which yields the tasty Rambutan fruit, enjoyed throughout southeast Asia. Click to see big picture (640x444 pixels; 160 KB)
The Anacardaceae, is usually called the Cashew Family, but also has species ranging from mangos to poison ivy.  This is a Wild Mango, Mangifera pajang, in a Sarawak market.  It is known as Membangan or Asam embang and has a lemony taste. Click to see big picture (640x455 pixels; 111 KB)
This is a giant leaf from a species of Melanorrhoea tree.  It was once used as an irritant in warfare by the Rungus tribe in northern Borneo, who called it Kerbu jalung, translating as 'untamed buffalo'.  The genus is also known for its red heartwood. Click to see big picture (640x315 pixels; 57 KB)
From the Meliaceae or Mahogany Family, this is the Lansat Tree, Lansium domesticum.  It grows wild in Sumatra and Borneo, but is widely planted for its tasty fruit and for folk medicine. Click to see big picture (625x480 pixels; 137 KB)
Eurycoma longifolia of the Simaroubaceae Family is a simple shrub which has become famous under the name of Tongat Ali.  It is widely used as a testosterone enhancer, both to improve sexual performance and in building muscles. Click to see big picture (545x480 pixels; 129 KB)
Here is the root of Tongat Ali.  It is also employed against several diseases, and seems to have some anti-cancer value.  Here in Sumatra it is known as Pasak Bumi and greatly appreciated for its anti-malarial properties. Click to see big picture (494x480 pixels; 118 KB)