- History and Culture
S. commersonii is a shrub that can grow up to 4 meters tall. It has a spherical trunk, reddish-brown bark, and sometimes creeping or prostrate branches. Leaves have petioles or stalks, are oval to elliptical and pointed at the apex. Inflorescences are terminal or are located at the axils of the leaves. This plant has solitary flowers, which have numerous pink-coloured stamens. The fruits are bright red globose berries and bear 2 to 3 seeds.
This endemic species of Mauritius is found both in intermediate and upland forests of higher altitudes. The flowers are pollinated by geckos, flies and birds. The plant produces many fruits that are scattered by birds, but it is rare to find seedlings in the wild.
Apple wood, as it is commonly known is classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List. No specific conservation plan exists for this species although it is protected under the Forest Restoration Project and in Conservation Management Areas (CMAs). Its population is declining due to habitat loss and the invasion of exotic species.
The species name of commersonii was given in honour of the French naturalist Philibert Commerson.The first sample was named Jambosa venosa 'It was collected by Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Knight of Lamarck in 1822.