Can You Eat Lilly Pilly Fruit (Or Are They Poisonous)?

There are around 60 different species of these plants that are native to Australia and all of these have edible berries.

Lilly Pillies are one of my favourite plants. They have an attractive growth habit as well as lovely new growth that is various shades of red.

On top of that, their fluffy white flowers are delightful and these are followed by small pink to dark red or purple berries.

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Are Lilly Pilly berries edible?

Syzygium australe fruit | Plant care
Syzygium australe / Photo by John Moss / Wikimedia

All varieties of Lilly Pilly berries are edible. Although they can be eaten directly from the tree, they are quite tart and mostly, they are made into jellies, jams, and chutneys. 

There are around 60 different species of these plants that are native to Australia and all of these have edible berries. However, they can vary in taste from species to species.

One species, Syzygium australe (Creek Lilly Pilly) has particularly tasty fruits that you could happily consume straight from the tree as they are slightly sweeter than other varieties.

You’ll also find that the fruits from Syzygium luehmannii (Riberry Lilly Pilly) are quite tasty but just a little more tart.

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How to eat Lilly Pilly fruit

Lilly Pillies can be eaten fresh from the tree but for most people, they are an acquired taste. They are generally quite tart and have spicy clove-like undertones.

Some of the berries are seedless or have tiny edible seeds while others contain a small hard seed around the size of a pea that needs to be removed before eating. 

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What can you use Lilly Pilly berries for?

Syzygium australe 2 | Plant care
Syzygium australe / Photo by Arthur Chapman / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Commonly, these fruits are made into jams and jellies and you can even use them to make chutneys or sweet syrups to serve over ice cream. Many restaurants around the country now use Lilly Pillies in their culinary offerings.

Lilly Pillies can also be used to make a tart and tangy sauce to serve over meats or in a salad dressing to add a unique flavour.

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These fruits have even been used to make wines, liqueurs, or even delicious cocktails. Homemade Lilly Pilly gin is also quite popular.

For a variety of interesting recipes such as Riberry caramel sauce, Lillipilli apple crumble, and candied Lillipilly, have a look at the Bush Tucker recipes from Aussie Table.

Lilly Pilly berries can even be frozen and will keep for around 2 years in the freezer. All you have to do is cut them in half and remove the seeds (if there are any). Then, pop these onto a flat tray in a single layer and open freeze.

Once the berries are frozen, you can pack them into bags to store in the freezer for later use.

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How do you know when Lilly Pilly berries are ripe?

Syzygium australe | Plant care
Syzygium australe / Photo by Pseudopanax / Wikimedia

Lilly Pilly fruits are ripe once they’ve turned to their final bright colour. This can vary from species to species.

For example, the Blue Lilly Pilly (Syzygium oleosum) has fruits that start out red and turn to a bright blue to purple colour as they ripen.

Other species of Lilly Pilly will have fruits that start out a light pink colour and turn a dark red as they ripen.

You’ll also find that the berries will be slightly soft and come off the tree easily when they’re fully ripe.

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Are there any health benefits of Lilly Pilly fruit?

Lilly Pilly berries are regarded as a superfood thanks to their nutritional value and many health benefits. They are said to be particularly good for the skin. 

These small berries contain a good amount of vitamin C as well as numerous fruit acids. They also contain folate and calcium.

They are believed to have both anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also believed that these fruits help to increase skin collagen and as well as protect the skin against ultraviolet radiation.

Indigenous Australians regard these nutrition-packed fruits as “medicine berries” and use them to help against infections and colds.

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What animals will eat Lilly Pilly berries?

Australian native animals such as possums, bats, and flying foxes love to feast on your Lilly Pilly berries. Many native bird species also adore the berries. Bees are attracted to the fluffy white flowers.

Are Lilly Pilly berries toxic to dogs?

Lilly Pilly berries are not toxic to dogs but most dogs will find the fruit just a little too tart.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.


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