Lily Pilly, Water Gum
Around 450 species, of evergreen trees, mainly from warm climates, formerly classified in the genus Eugenia.
The genus has now been split into several genera including Eugenia, Acmena, and Syzygium.
Many naturally occur in rainforests. Grown for their often, attractive, simple, opposite, dense foliage, and colourful berries, which range in colour from white to pink to red to bluish-purple.
Some are too large for small gardens, while others are an ideal size. Most are suitable for growing in containers, or as an hedge or topiary.
These are generally hardy and adaptable plants that prefer light shade or filtered sun, though many grow well in full sun. A moist, well drained soil is usually ideal. Very adapted to tropical, sub-tropical and warm temperate climates. Some species will also grow successfully, although usually slower, in cool temperate zones. They respond well to mulching. Many are frost tender. Growth rates are fast to moderate in good conditions.
Keep soil moist; water in extended dry periods. Some cultivars are more susceptible to pests and diseases than others. Scale insects can cause sooty mould infections on many Syzygium plants. Psyllid insects may affect one cultivar, and not touch another growing beside it. Propagate by fresh seed that has been removed from the fleshy fruit, which may be slow and erratic to germinate, or by cuttings. Some dwarf cultivars of a few species are now available.
Heights in cultivation are considerably smaller than might be achieved in natural forests.
S. alatoramulum (Tinkling satinash) - To 4-6m tall x 2.5m, with white flowers and pale purplish fruits.
S. Boonjee (Northern satinash) - To 5m tall x 3m, relatively newly variable lilly pilly with good dimensions and appearance for small gardens.
S. canicortex (Yellow satinash) - To 5-8m tall x 3m in cultivation, although slow growing. New growth can be tones of red, brown or orange. White flowers are followed by pear-shaped red berries.
S. erthrocalyx (Johnson river apple) - To 4m tall x 2.5m. Stunning, rich red new foliage. Lime green flowers are borne on the trunks and branches. Large red edible berries. Shade is needed.
S. fibrosum (Fibrous satinash) - To 4-5m tall x 3m, with apricot flowers, and bright red edible fruits.
S. francissii (Francis’ Water Gum) – Generally up to 7m in a garden, but can reach greater heights in the topical rainforests. Semi-weeping appearance, with white flowers and mauve edible fruit. Looks very similar to S. luehmannii when not in fruit.
S. hodgkinsoniae (Red lilly pilly) -To 4m tall with large cream fragrant flowers and large red berries.
S. luehmannii (Riberry / Small leaved Lilly Pilly) - Generally only growing to around 7m tall in gardens (much higher in natural forest). This popular tree has small white flowers and a profusion of red, pear-shaped fruits that can cover the tree. New growth is pink.
S. tierneyanum (River cherry) - To 5-6m tall x 3-4m. Large creamy flowers and red to pink fruits.
S. wilsonii - To 3m tall making it a good shrub sized plant. Large clusters of rich red flowers followed by white fruit. Distinctive weeping habit.
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