Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Syzygium smithii (Lilly Pilly)

Syzygium smithii, also known as lilly pilly, is a multi-purpose tree with attractive foliage, showy flowers and edible fruit. New leafy growth is copper-colored...
and matures to lush, dark green.
The tree has a strongly upright growth habit, but can be maintained as a hedge if regularly pruned.
The trunk has reddish-tan, finely-grained bark. The reddish tint intensifies after a rain.

Flowering occurs in late spring to early summer. Blooms are pale, cream-colored puffballs that appear in clusters at the tips of the branches. Individual flowers are about 2-3 inches across.

The pink fruits ripen in mid to late summer. They are crunchy and watery, without much flavor, and slightly astringent. They can be made into jelly. Each marble-sized fruit contains a single large seed.

Syzygium smithii is native to Australia, where a wide variety of birds and mammals feed on the fruit. The tree reportedly can reach 60 feet or more with age and the mature wood is used for flooring, framing and wood-turning. Ornamental plantings can be pruned to shape and size. It grows in sun or shade, but best fruit production will be in sunnier locations.
Most references list this plant for USDA Zones 9-ll, with some claiming it does fine in 8B.
There are several cultivated varieties selected for plant size or leaf color.

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