Sunday, 29 May 2016
Syzygium australe, with many common names that include brush cherry, scrub cherry, creek lilly-pilly, creek satinash, and watergum, is a rainforest tree native to eastern Australia. It can attain a height of up to 35m with a trunk diameter of 60cm. In cultivation, this species is usually a small to medium-sized tree with a maximum height of only 18m.
The leaves are opposite, simple, lanceolate from 4–8 cm long. Flowers are white and in clusters. The dark pink to red fruits are edible. Closely related to the Eugenias, I planted mine specifically because Grey Louries are purported to be fond of the fruit. Just a kilometer away from us there are Louries in abundance and yet they don’t visit my garden at all. It doesn’t seem to have helped, my Syzygium is 10 years old already and nary a Grey Lourie! But I do enjoy this tree’s shiny foliage and those lovely berries. Flowering time is early summer. In early autumn, red to purple roundish fruits are produced. They are about 15 mm in diameter and are tipped with a persistent calyx.
The genus Syzygium has many medicinal properties. Eugeniin extracted from the buds of almost all species of this genus has antiviral activity against the Herpes simplex virus. Bark infusions of this plant are said to ease pain and coughing.
Purported to be evergreen, mine frosts down every winter and every spring I anxiously await the new greenery, relieved when at last it makes its appearance.
One thing about planting a non-indigenous species of tree, is that no birds are interested in the fruit and don't even use it for nesting. The Mynahs are just about the only birds I ever even see visiting it. But it is a lovely ornamental tree for the garden.