Jamun is a very common, large evergreen beautiful tree of Indian subcontinent. The scientific name of Jamun is Eugenia jambolana or Syzygium cumini L and it belongs to the myrtaceae plant family. Common names are java plum, black plum, jambul and Indian blackberry. It grows naturally is clayey loam soil in tropical as well as sub-tropical zones. It is widely cultivated in Haryana as well as the rest of the Indo-Gangetic plains on a large scale. Its habitat starts from Myanmar and extends up to Afghanistan. It is generally cultivated as a roadside avenue tree as well.
Jamun tree tends to grow an umbrella like crown having dense foliage. It thus gives pleasant cool shade during summer. It tends to have a straight bole when coming up on rich soil and favorable climate, but a crooked one when on a dry terrain and unfavorable environment. Its bark is light gray in color and fairly smooth in texture.
Jamun foliage comprises leaves measuring about 10 to 15 cm long and 4 to 6 cm wide. These are entire, ovate-oblong, sometimes lanceolate and also acuminate, coraceous, tough and smooth with shine above. The fragrant flowers of Jamun are small, nearly 5 mm in diameter. These are arranged in terminal trichotomous panicles greenish white in color. These appear during March-April.
Jamun fruit appears in May-June. The berry is oblong, ovoid, green when just appearing, pink when attaining near maturity and shining crimson black when fully ripe. The fruit of wild variety called kath-jamun or woody Jamun are small and tart in taste. The ones of grafted for improved variety are large, and deliciously sweet, but slightly sour.
Jamun tree is useful in many ways. The foliage serves as fodder, for cattle, especially during drought. The twigs form good datoon (tooth brush). The Jamun twig is also used as a rough painting brush for lettering addresses on ones gunny packs while moving household affects from one place to another. Unripe fruit is used for making vinegar. The juice is also criminating, diuretic and gives a soothing effect on human digestive system. The juice of ripe fruit is used for preparing sauces as well as beverages. It is also dried with salt and preserved as a digestive powder or churan. The seed as well as bark have several applications in Ayurveda, Unani and Chinese system of medicine. The seed is also rich in protein and carbohydrates. It also contains traces of calcium. These are, therefore, widely used as cattle feed, a medicine against diabetes and antidote in a kind of soft-food poisoning. Diabetic patients can take Jamun fruit regularly during the season of its availability for a temporary relief from the said malady. The Jamun bark also acts as tonic, astringent and anti-periodic too.
Jamun tree is a fairly fast growing species. In suitable locations it attains nearly 20 to 25 meter height and 2 to 3 meter girth in nearly 100 years. Its wood is fairly hard and reasonably durable, though is not so easy to work and plane. It weighs nearly 20 to 25 kg per cubic foot and is used in construction of economic village dwellings, and making agriculture implements, cheap furniture, etc. A few decades ago the Jamun wood was also used for railway sleepers after creosote treatment. In house construction this woods considered acceptable for posts, beams and rafters for general structure and top canopy of lean-to roof. It is also fairly good for rice mortars, cart parts and well curves, for it lasts well under water applications.
Jamun seedlings grown naturally under mother trees from the fallen seeds. Thorny bushes, if available in the area, are good to protect the young seedlings from browsing animals. The tree is, however, generally propagated by raising its seedlings in nurseries. Looking at its various qualities, it is needed that we should plant and propagate this multi-utility species in large numbers in all available vacant lands to improve economy as well as environment.