Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Downy Rose Myrtle (Rhodomyrtus tomentosa) is southern and southeastern Asian shrub with opposite 3-veined leaves and fluffy pink flowers.
  • It is cultivated in tropical to subtropical areas of Australia.
  • The fruits are edible and are attractive to birds and mammals.
  • It is not currently naturalised in Australia.
  • It is an important environmental weed in some other countries.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Downy Rose Myrtle (Rhodomyrtus tomentosa) is a shrub growing to 4 m high. The leaves are opposite, oval in shape, 4.5–8 cm long and 2.3–4 cm wide, and have three prominent veins running the length of the leaf. They are glossy green above, and white or yellowish below, due to a dense covering of hairs. The leaf stalks are 3–5 mm long.

The flowers are 20–30 mm across, bright pink, and borne singly or in threes at the junctions of leaf and branchlet. The 5 petals are broad and widely spreading. The stamens (stalk or filament containing pollen) are very numerous and about the same length as the petals.

The flowers are followed by fleshy fruits. At maturity, the fruits are purplish-black, egg-shaped or nearly so, 10–15 mm long, with a persistent calyx (base of flower). Each fruit contains numerous seeds (Scott 1978).

For further information and assistance with the identification of Downy Rose Myrtle, contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour


Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

In its native range, Downy Rose Myrtle inhabits shrubby forest, coastal scrub or regrowth forest (Scott 1978). In Hawaii it inhabits moist and wet forests and bog margins (PIER 2003).

Are there similar species?

The 3-veined leaves of Downy Rose Myrtle are also a feature of a number of Rhodomyrtus species and Rhodamnia species cultivated in, or native to Australia. However, none of those species has such a large bright pink flower as that of the Downy Rose Myrtle (Queensland Herbarium 2008).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Native ecosystems: Downy Rose Myrtle is an important environmental weed because it forms large thickets that displace native flora and fauna. It is a serious weed in Hawaii, Florida and French Polynesia (GISD 2005). The fruit of Downy Rose Myrtle is edible and sweet (Latiff 1991). Considering the history of the species as a significant weed overseas (especially Hawaii and Florida), where it has formed pure stands within native vegetation, it seems reasonable to predict it will become a significant pest in coastal Queensland (QLD DAF 2016).

How does it spread?

The seeds of Downy Rose Myrtle are dispersed by frugivorous (fruit-eating) birds (PIER 2003).

What is its history in Australia?

Downy Rose Myrtle has been cultivated in Australia as an ornamental plant since at least 1970 (Queensland Herbarium 2008).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Non chemical control: Downy Rose Myrtle can be hand pulled or dug out as seedlings and young plants.

Chemical control: Some chemicals are effective in controlling Downy Rose Myrtle. Larger plants should be cut down and stumps treated with herbicide (PIER 2003).

Please see the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for chemical information http://www.apvma.gov.au 

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Downy Rose Myrtle is a perennial species. Flowers have been recorded from October to January, with fruits ripening in autumn (Queensland Herbarium 2008). It is a prolific producer of seed (PIER 2008). Plants grown from cuttings will bear fruits in about two years (Latiff 1991).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?

Not naturalised in any Australian state or territory.

What areas within states and territories is it found?

Downy Rose Myrtle is not currently naturalised in Australia (Cowie & Kerrigan 2007; Western Australian Herbarium 2008; Queensland Herbarium 2008). 

Where does it originate?

Downy Rose Myrtle is native to southern China, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, and Malaysia (GRIN 2008; PIER 2003).

National And State Weed Listings

Is it a Weed of National Significance (WONS)?


Where is it a declared weed?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the National Alert List for Environmental Weeds?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the Agricultural Sleeper List?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Names And Taxonomy

Main scientific name

Rhodomyrtus tomentosa

Other scientific names (synonyms)?


Does it have other known common name(s)?

Feijoa, Ceylon Hill Cherry, Downy Myrtle

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