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.

The leaves are opposite and 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.

The flowers are produced in panicle-like clusters in the upper leaf axils and terminals and are quite conspicuous.

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) and sometimes more (berry).

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

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 – from the Greek syzygos (σύζυγος) or syzygy (σύζυγi) which means “husband” or “wife” or “spouse”, basically referring to “joined”. It refers to some species having leaf bases joined together (some Caribbean species) which were named before Australian species.
oleosum – Latin meaning “oily” (Olea is the Olive genus), referring to the numerous and translucent oil glands in this species.

Not considered at risk in the wild.

https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Syzygium~oleosum
http://www.canbr.gov.au/cpbr/cd-keys/RFK7/key/RFK7/Media/Html/entities/Syzygium_oleosum.htm
http://anpsa.org.au/s-ole.html

By Dan Clarke