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Rhodomyrtus Tomentosa: Discover the Beauty of Downy Myrtle

The Rhodomyrtus tomentosa, also known as the downy myrtle, is a shrub from the Myrtaceae family that can grow up to 2 meters in height. Its leaves are opposite, leathery, elliptical or ovate. The flowers are often solitary and purple-red in colour; the calyx tube is ovate, the calyx lobes are nearly round, the petals […]

The Rhodomyrtus tomentosa, also known as the downy myrtle, is a shrub from the Myrtaceae family that can grow up to 2 meters in height. Its leaves are opposite, leathery, elliptical or ovate.

The flowers are often solitary and purple-red in colour; the calyx tube is ovate, the calyx lobes are nearly round, the petals are ovate, and the stamens are red. The fruit is an ovate-urn shaped berry, which turns purple-black when ripe.

The flowering period is from April to May. As the summer flowers bloom, they create a vibrant and colourful scene, reminiscent of a red dawn, blossoming and bearing fruit simultaneously.

The mature fruit is edible and can be made into wine. It is a natural food source for birds. It is used for garden greening, ecological environment construction, slope restoration, and soil and water conservation.

The fruit is edible and the whole plant can be used for medicinal purposes, with benefits including promoting blood circulation, relieving diarrhea, and stopping bleeding.

I. Morphological characteristics

Rhodomyrtus tomentosa

The shrub is 1-2 meters high, with young branches covered in gray-white soft hair. The leaves are opposite, leathery, elliptical or ovate, 3-8 cm long, 1-4 cm wide, with a round or blunt tip, often slightly indented, sometimes slightly pointed, and a broad wedge base.

The top initially has hair, which later disappears, leaving the surface shiny, while the underside has gray fluff. The leaf stalk is 4-7 mm long.

The flowers have long stems, are often solitary, purple-red, and 2-4 cm in diameter; the calyx tube is ovate, 6 mm long, and has gray fluff. The stamens are red, 7-8 mm long; the ovary is inferior, with 3 chambers, and the style is 1 cm long.

The fruit is an ovate-urn shaped berry, 1.5-2 cm long, 1-1.5 cm wide, and turns purple-black when ripe. The seeds are arranged in two rows in each chamber. The flowering period is from April to May.

II. Distribution Range

Rhodomyrtus tomentosa

It grows in hilly slopes and is an indicator plant for acidic soil. It is found in Indochina, the Philippines, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Indonesia, among other places.

It grows on red-yellow loamy hilly areas and is extremely common in Guangdong and Guangxi provinces.

III. Growth and Reproduction

Seeds

Before sowing, it is important to select the seeds carefully as their quality directly affects the success of germination. It is best to choose seeds harvested within the same year.

The longer the seeds are stored, the lower the germination rate will be. Opt for seeds that are plump, undamaged, non-deformed, and free from pests and diseases.

A common method of seed disinfection at home is to soak the seeds in hot water, at around 60°C, for 15 minutes, and then in lukewarm water for 12-24 hours to encourage germination.

The substrate used for sowing should also be disinfected, ideally by heating it in a pan to kill any pests or diseases. The seeds should be soaked in lukewarm water (similar temperature to face-washing water) for 12-24 hours until they absorb water and swell.

Rhodomyrtus tomentosa

For common seeds that germinate easily, this step can be skipped. For tiny seeds difficult to pick up by hand or other tools, you can moisten the end of a toothpick with water, and use it to stick the seeds one by one onto the surface of the substrate, cover with about 1 cm thick substrate, then place the pot in water at a depth of 1/2-2/3 of the pot height to let the water gradually soak up (this method is known as “pot soaking method”).

For larger seeds that can be picked up by hand or other tools, simply place the seeds directly into the substrate at a spacing of 3×5 cm.

After sowing, cover with a layer of substrate 2-3 times the thickness of the seeds. A sprayer or watering can with fine holes should be used to water and wet the sowing substrate.

When the potting soil is slightly dry, water it again, but be careful not to water too forcefully to avoid washing away the seeds. After sowing in late autumn, early spring, or winter, if there is a cold wave, you can wrap the flower pot with plastic film to help keep it warm and moist.

Rhodomyrtus tomentosa

Once the seedlings emerge, remove the film promptly, and expose the seedlings to sunlight before 9:30 am or after 3:30 pm each day to prevent them from growing too weak.

After most of the seeds have germinated, thin the seedlings appropriately: remove diseased or unhealthy seedlings to give the remaining ones enough space. When most of the seedlings have grown three or more leaves, they can be transplanted.

Cuttings

When making softwood cuttings, select robust branches from the current year during the vigorous growth period from late spring to early autumn.

After cutting the branch, choose a sturdy section and cut it into a 5-15 cm segment, each segment should have at least three leaf nodes. When cutting the cuttings, the top cut should be about 1 cm above the top leaf node and the bottom cut should be about 0.5 cm below the bottom leaf node, both cuts should be smooth (use a sharp knife).

For hardwood cuttings, after the temperature rises in early spring, choose robust branches as cuttings. Each cutting should usually retain 3-4 nodes, and the cutting method is the same as for softwood cuttings.

IV. Primary Value

In early autumn, it’s the season when the fruits of Photinia ripen. Their fruits turn from green to yellow, then red to purple. Laden with clusters of fruits, they look like mini wine cups.

The fruits contain a pit that somewhat resembles a worm, surrounded by many seeds, and taste exceptionally sweet.

The fruits are most delicious when they turn purple, quenching thirst and leaving a sweet aftertaste, and will also stain one’s tongue and teeth purple.

However, if you eat too many, you must drink a bowl of salt water, or you may have difficulty defecating the next day.

Ornamental

Photinia is compact in shape and evergreen throughout the year. Its flowers turn from white to red, creating a vibrant contrast. The flowering period is also lengthy.

The fruits turn from bright red to maroon, both stages are visually appealing. They can be planted in clusters, sections, or individually to embellish green spaces, achieving a pleasing effect.

Photinia grows rapidly, is drought-resistant, and has strong resilience. It grows 1-2m tall and its young branches are short and hairy. The leaves are opposite, leathery, and either oval or ovate.

Its corymb inflorescence is axillary, with 3-5 flowers, each with 5 petals that are ovate. The flowers turn from white to red, rose-red, or purple-red, and the same plant can have a wide variety of flower colors.

The flowers are strikingly beautiful and eye-catching, blooming continuously for over two months. Its strong and flexible stems are suitable for bonsai or planting in clusters or sections in gardens, making it an excellent wild flower for beautification.

Medicinal Uses

The roots of Photinia contain phenols, tannins, etc., which are effective in treating chronic dysentery, rheumatism, hepatitis, and lowering blood lipids.

Medicinal Material Source: The fruit of the Rosaceae plant Photinia.

Harvesting and Storage: Harvest when the fruit is ripe in autumn, then dry in the sun.

Taste: Sweet, astringent, and neutral.

Meridians: Liver, spleen, and lung meridians.

Functions and Indications: Nourish blood and stop bleeding; astringe intestines and retain essence.

It is used to treat blood deficiency, physical weakness, vomiting blood, nosebleeds, coughing up blood due to overwork, bloody stools, excessive menstruation, seminal emission, leukorrhea, dysentery, prolapse of rectum, burns, and bleeding due to external injuries.

Roots: Expel wind and activate channels, astringe and stop diarrhea. They are used in cases of acute and chronic gastritis, stomachaches, indigestion, hepatitis, dysentery, rheumatoid arthritis, lumbar strain, functional uterine bleeding, rectal prolapse.

For external use, they treat burns. The roots contain phenols, tannins, etc., which are effective in treating chronic dysentery, rheumatism, hepatitis, and lowering blood lipids.

Leaves: Astringe and stop diarrhea, stop bleeding. They are used for acute gastroenteritis, indigestion, dysentery, and externally, for treating bleeding due to injuries.

Fruits: Enrich blood, nourish, and calm the fetus. They are used for anemia, debility after an illness, neurasthenia, tinnitus, and seminal emission.

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Peggie

Peggie

Founder of FlowersLib

Peggie was once a high school mathematics teacher, but she set aside her chalkboard and textbooks to follow her lifelong passion for flowers. After years of dedication and learning, she not only established a thriving flower shop but also founded this blog, “Flowers Library”. If you have any questions or wish to learn more about flowers, feel free to contact Peggie.

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