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Rhodomyrtus tomentosa - (Aiton) Hassk.

Common Name Ceylon Hill Gooseberry
Family Myrtaceae
USDA hardiness 9-11
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Thrives in open, often degraded sandy sites, along the shore and on river banks. Where it grows, other plants seem not to be able to compete with it, hence almost pure stands exist[303].
Range E. Asia - China, southern Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Rhodomyrtus tomentosa Ceylon Hill Gooseberry

Rhodomyrtus tomentosa Ceylon Hill Gooseberry


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Rhodomyrtus tomentosa is an evergreen Shrub growing to 4 m (13ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Cynomyrtus tomentosa (Aiton) Scriv. Myrtus canescens Lour. Myrtus tomentosa Aiton. R. tomentosa var. tomentosa

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Fruit  Leaves
Edible Uses: Drink

Fruit - usually eaten raw, they are also made into pies, tarts, jellies or used in salads [301 ]. Fruit makes an excellent jam. The fully ripe fruit is sweet and much liked by children [303 ]. It is somewhat astringent before it is fully mature [303 ]. In Cambodia and Vietnam, fermented fruit makes an alcoholic wine-like drink called 'ruou sim (myrtle wine)'. In Vietnam, the fruits are freshly canned with syrup for export. The purple oblong fruit is up to 15mm long and 10mm wide[200 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antidiarrhoeal  Antiseptic  Dysentery

The fruit has been used as a cure for dysentery and diarrhoea [303]. A decoction of the roots or leaves is drunk as a treatment for diarrhoea and stomachache and a protective medicine after birth [303]. A decoction or the extracted juice of the buds and young leaves has a beneficial effect in treating colic, diarrhoea, dysentery, abscesses, furunculosis and haemorrhage [283]. A concentrated decoction of the leaves is used as an antiseptic wash for treating wounds, impetigo and abscesses [283]. The crushed leaves are used to dress wounds [303 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Cosmetic  Dye  Fire retardant  Pioneer

Within its native range, R. tomentosa is a quick-growing early successional species. It is fire-adapted and sprouts prolifically after a fire. It has shown promise as a fire retardant species for use in fire breaks in the Himalayas. The wood tar can serve as a black dye and has been used to blacken teeth and eyebrows [303]. R. tomentosa is cultivated both as an ornamental plant and for its edible berries. It is more commonly grown for its ornamental value and its beautiful flowers. In southern China, it has been tested in restoration to provide shade for slower-growing native plant species. Another frequently-cultivated species in the Myrtaceae family, Acca sellowiana, looks similar to R. tomentosa; however, unlike those of R. tomentosa, the leaves of A. sellowiana are whitish-hairy beneath, particularly when young, and are not 3-nerved from the base [1-8]. Suitability for pots. Attracts wildlife. The fruit is also used as a food source for animals and birds.

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Rhodomyrtus tomentosa can succeed in tropical and subtropical climates at elevations up to 2,440 metres [303 ]. The plant requires an annual rainfall that exceeds 1,200mm [303 ]. Soil drainage: free, impeded, seasonally waterlogged. Soil preferences acid, very acid. Soil texture: heavy, light, medium. Special soil tolerances: infertile, saline. Plants can tolerate occasional temperatures dropping to as low as -6°c [335 ]. Requires a sunny position in a well-drained but moisture-retentive lime-free soil [200 ]. Prefers soil with a pH in the range of 4 - 6 [335 ]. Plants can tolerate occasional flooding [303 ]. There are two primary forms of the plant. Var. tomentosa is generally found in more harsh environments, up to elevations of 300 metres and rarely up to 1,300 metres[303 ]. On the other hand, var. parviflora occurs in montane woodlands and grassland at altitudes of 1,800 - 2,700 metres [303 ]. The plant has escaped from cultivation and becomes invasive in some of the areas introduced to[416 ]. Plants grown from seed can begin to bear fruit when 3 - 4 years old[335 ], while plants raised through cuttings will bear fruit in about two years [303 ]. Dwarf forms are more common for ornamental gardens (1/2 Normal Size). In its native range from India to Southeast Asia and the Philippines, R. tomentosa is a quick-growing early successional species found in a range of disturbed and open natural sites, often near the coast and sometimes on degraded shrubland slopes [1-8]. In Hawaii, it is found in disturbed mesic to wet forest and bog margins, from 200 to 640 meters elevation [1-8]. In Florida, it is documented as invading scrub, coastal strands, mesic flatwoods, wet flatwoods, baygalls, lakeshores, and ruderal communities [1-8]. Flowers are pollinated primarily by the bee species'Amegilla florea' and 'Xylocopa nasalis'[1-8]. It needs two bushes minimum for pollination. R. tomentosa is dispersed locally by birds (and sometimes mammals) which consume the fruit. Ants can also disperse seeds. Spread is facilitated by the high rate of fruit production and high germination rate [1-8]. In Java, flowering occurs from July to August and fruiting from September to October. In Singapore, flowering occurs throughout the year.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown fresh. Remove the seed from the fruit pulp before sowing[200]. Cuttings. Division of crowns.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Ceylon hill-cherry, Downy myrtle, Downy rose myrtle, Hill-gooseberry, Rose myrtle, Guayabillo forastero (Spanish).

Native Range

TEMPERATE ASIA: Fujian Sheng, Guangdong Sheng, Guangxi Zhuangzu Zizhiqu, Guizhou Sheng, Hainan Sheng, Hong Kong, Hunan Sheng, Taiwan, Yunnan Sheng,China. TROPICAL ASIA: India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

A noxious weed in Hawaii and Florida and also a problem in Raiatea, French Polynesia. In its native range in Asia, it is a weed in Malaysia and Thailand. Several characteristics, including its popularity in cultivation, ability to form dense monocultures, bird- and mammal-dispersed fruits, ability to tolerate mild freezing and saline conditions, high seed production and germination, aggressive growth rate, and ability to resprout following fire events, make this species a serious invader [1-8].

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Least Concern.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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(Aiton) Hassk.

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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