The Lilly Pilly is April's plant of the month.
Common Name: Lilly Pilly
Indigenous Name: Dagubah (D’harawal eora and common Sydney language)
Botanical Name: Acmena, Syzygium and Waterhousea
Some of the native shrubs in Centennial Parklands may not be very old, but they come from an ancient lineage of remarkable specimens unique to this land.
Lilly Pillys are native to Australia and are common in the rainforests of Queensland and New South Wales. In Australia, there are over 60 different species from three different genera: Acmena, Syzygium and Waterhousea
Lilly Pillys are evergreen rainforest plants with glossy green leaves. Many varieties have flushes of colourful new growth, ranging from brilliant pink to a red-brown. In spring to early summer most plants have fluffy white or greenish flowers followed by long-lasting red, pink, magenta, or white berries.
The fruit matures from summer to autumn, being a pear or round-shaped berry, covering a single seed. The fruit has a cranberry-like flavour, that has a hint of cloves. Flavour varies between species; some are very sweet, while others are tart. It has been popular as a gourmet bushfood since the early 1980s and is commercially cultivated on a small-scale basis.
These trees commonly reach around 7 metres, with some species reaching over 30 metres. There are smaller varieties that can be used as garden hedges.
The sweeter fruit is quite popular in Australia where it’s commercially produced. The trees are also used for timber.
The fruit is most commonly used to make a distinctively flavoured jam, and is also used in sauces, syrups and confectionery.
The fruit features widely in traditional Aboriginal medicine, used as a treatment for sore ears, wounds and skin conditions, and is generally consumed as an immune system booster. Western science now understands these ancient “medicine berries” to be a native superfood, having high levels of vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium and potassium, and its potential applications in health, medicine and cosmetics.
A Lilly Pilly from the Sydney region, Syzygium smithii, was brought back to England in 1790 by Sir Joseph Banks and introduced into cultivation at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. This species is also suitable as a bonsai plant.
Many native parrots, fruit-doves, native pigeons, Bowerbirds and Pied Currawong eat Lilly Pilly berries as well as Brushtail possums and Flying-foxes. Ringtail possums also eat the fresh leaves.
Where to see the Lilly Pilly in Centennial Parklands