Syzygium oleosum

Blue Lilly Pilly, Blue Cherry

Family: Myrtaceae

A shrub to medium tree, to about 10 – 15 m tall in its natural habitat.

It grows along the coast of NSW, in subtropical, warm temperate and littoral rainforest. Found from north of Port Kembla in NSW, north along the entire NSW coast, into Queensland to the far north.

Syzygium spp. have simple and opposite leaves. In this species, they are glossy-green, with the lower surface much paler, ranging from lanceolate to elliptic, to about 12 cm long and 4 cm wide, with a long pointy (acuminate) tip. The large oil glands can be seen with a hand lens and are numerous and translucent.

Syzygium produce 5-merous staminate flowers in panicle-like inflorescences, terminal or axillary on either younger or older wood. In this species, the staminate flowers are cream/white in colour and are produced in large numbers, about 10 mm across long with stamens 15 mm long, creating a “fluffy” flowering effect.

The fruit of Syzygium is a succulent structure – closely resembling a berry or a drupe. Sometimes there is one seed (drupe-like) and sometimes more (berry-like). In this species, they are very attractive, being blue-purple to magenta (between red and purple), somewhat globe-shaped or more flat (wider than tall), to about 25 mm. They can be used to make jam.

In the garden

A very hardy tree with an attractive canopy and overall form. It has an attractive canopy that lends to rainforest themes and shady gardens.

Also, a great specimen tree in a lawn. It is not as commonly cultivated as other lilly pilly species.

Needs some room to grow once established, as planted specimens can exceed 10 m by 5 m wide.

Drought tolerant once established. Full sun to part shade.

Prune to encourage a desired shape and denser foliage. They can get leggy with gaps in the foliage if not pruned.

Attractive to birds. Likes a well-drained soil with some enrichment.

Flowers and fruits more prolifically after pruning. The blue-purple/magenta fruits are also a feature.

It also has reddish new growth which is attractive for much of the year.

This species is not considered to be heavily attacked by psyllid. It can suffer from scale.


Propagation from seed or soft-wood cuttings.

Other information

Considered to be very similar to Syzygium paniculatum, S. australe and S. crebrinerve
There are differences with the number and size of oil glands in the leaves and fruit characteristics.

Likely regenerates from suckering after fire and seed bank. Lives in habitat which is non fire-prone and so may suffer detriment with fire.

Syzygium is a large genus of over 1000 species (placing it in the Top-20 most diverse genera of the world); found in Africa, Asia, the wider Pacific and Australia. Australia has about 52 species, 47 species of which are endemic, occurring in New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia. NSW currently has 9 species. 1 species is endemic to Lord Howe Island.  

Syzygium – from the Greek syzygos (σύζυγος) or syzygy (σύζυγi) which means “husband” or “wife” or “spouse”, basically referring to “joined”. It reportedly may refer to some species having leaf bases joined together (as in some Caribbean species); a trait it seems doesn’t really apply to Australian species. Or, may apply to the consistent paired opposite leaves and/or branching pattern.

oleosum – Latin meaning “oily” (Olea is the Olive genus), referring to the numerous and translucent oil glands in this species.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Syzygium oleosum profile page          https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Syzygium~oleosum

Tucker Bush – Blue Lilly Pilly profile page                                                    https://tuckerbush.com.au/blue-lilly-pilly-syzygium-oleosum/

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.


By Dan Clarke