I got introduced to magtungaw by accident. I was asking Ime Sarmiento of Hortica Filipina for some pictures of mangkono or Xanthostemon verdugonianus. She readily obliged and copied me pictures in my USB. But when I opened the files, another tree species was included into the folder. The hitchhiked files were labeled magtungaw.
The flowers of this magtungaw are filamentous, like the flower of the red mangkono. But immmediately you could tell apart the pictures are different of that of mangkono because the flowers are pink, and not bright red.. So I got curious and googled. But there were no results. I could only sigh to a dead end and moved my curiosity to the back of my head...until yesterday.
I met up with the usual Lung Center plant crowd over at the Sunday market. They were going to Ime's place to get seedlings of mangkono. Ime sarmiento was formerly of Clean and Green. She is in the process of establishing an NGO named Hortica Filipina, with goals to promote Philippine Flora for use in the urban area. Their motto is actually in the lines of my thesis so how could i resist not tagging along.
At Ime's house, part of her garden was devoted to rearing seedlings of some interesting species like lipote, yakal, mabolo etc and of course, a few small seedlings of mangkono - the plant objectiive of my companions. But instantly I remembered the magtungaw that got mixed into my USB pics. So I hopefully asked Ime if she had seedlings. She did..to our joy!
Asking more about magtungaw from Ime I learned that they suspect the species to be Syzygium alcinae. She looked up the name in Madulid's book and it said magtungaw is the Visayan vernacular of S. alcinae. I forgot where Ime collected seeds from, what I recall she said somewhere in Bicol, probably Catanduanes.
Incidentally the Philippines is a sort of halfway land of plant distribution between Australia and Asia. Interestingly we have some weird connections to both Asian and Oceanic Flora. We have an endemic Eucalyptus, E. deglupta or bagras. Eucalyptus trees are concentrated mainly in Australia. Also we have almaciga, Agathis philippinensis, a member of the Araucaria family, most members grow near New Zealand.
Syzygiums are also member of the myrtle family to which Eucalyptus is also a member. I heard from Wally Suarez, an avid plant enthusiast, that the Philippines is the epicenter for the genus Syzygium which includes such famous members like duhat, tampoi and lipote (he said we have about 200 species native) . Most of these are valued because of their nice tree form, red colored shoots or edible fruits. So to have an attractive pink colored flower species like magtungaw is a welcome attraction to any garden.
Of course the magtungaw pics are from Ime Sarmiento.