Syzygium paniculatum (Dwarf Form)

Magenta Cherry, Dwarf Scrub Cherry, Magenta Lilly Pilly

Family: Myrtaceae

This cultivar is known marketed as Syzygium paniculatum ‘Dwarf’ and grows to 3 metres tall by 2 metres wide. It may also be sold as ‘Magenta Cherry’.

Syzygium paniculatum grows along the coast of NSW, in subtropical and littoral rainforest, as well as sand dunes behind the beach. Found from generally north of Jervis Bay to about Buladelah. There are extensive stands of it around the central coast of NSW, but it is considered threatened in the wild. However, in other areas, it has become weedy due to a long history of planting.

Syzygium spp. produce simple and opposite leaves. In this cultivar, they are glossy-green, with the lower surface much paler, ranging from laceolate to obovate, to about 10 cm long and 3 cm wide, with an obvious pointy (acuminate) tip. The large oil glands can be seen with a hand lens.

Syzygium produce 4 to 5-merous flowers with many stamens surrounding 1 carpel (staminate flowers) in panicle-like inflorescences, terminal or axillary on either younger or older wood. In this cultivar, 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 cultivar, they are very attractive, being purple to magenta (between red and purple), somewhat globe-shaped or cherry-shaped, to about 25 mm long and wide. They can be used to make jam.

Attractive white fluffy flowers appear in summer and are followed by large, fleshy, magenta-coloured fruits. These are oval in shape and around 20 mm long and contain a single seed. The fruits are edible and are often made into jams.

In the garden

Author’s notes:

The dwarf form I grow in my northern Sydney suburb of Westleigh garden is often sold under the name of ‘Magenta Cherry’. I have a hedge of them planted one metre apart (from the centre) and they all grow to about 3 metres tall. They make very effective screening plants as they are bushy to the ground and can be pruned to maintain height.

I do give them supplementary water in extended dry periods in summer and overall I would rate them as quite hardy especially if the garden is well mulched and you fertilise them with Blood and Bone in spring and autumn.

They grow best in a sunny position as this shows the colourful new growth to the best effect. When they are grown in a shady/filtered light position they are often susceptible to attacks of pimple gall and white scale (although I have not found this to be the case with my plants).

The only guarantee that the new foliage will not be disfigured by the pimple gall is to select alternative species such as forms of Acmenas, Syzygium luechmanii and most Syzygium australe cultivars as they are resistant to it.


This dwarf form must be cultivated by cuttings to retain its “true-to-type” features.

Other information

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.

paniculatum – Latin for panicle-bearing, referring to how the flowers are arranged on this species.

Botanic Nurseries – Syzygium paniculatum ‘Dwarf’ sales page https://botanicanurseries.com.au/produce/syzygium-paniculatum-dwarf/

All Natives Nursery – Syzygium paniculatum ‘Dwarf’ sales page    https://www.allnatives.com.au/shrubs/1-to-3m-high/dwarf-magenta-cherry-lily-pilly-syzygium

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke