Plant Profile: Syzygium australe Lilly Pilly

Discover Syzygium australe, a native Australian gem perfect for hedges and privacy screens. Learn how to grow and care for this evergreen tree, and why it’s a must-have in your garden.

This evergreen tree is known for its dense foliage and compact growth habit. It’s a native Australian plant, perfect for creating privacy screens or hedges in your garden.

But there’s more to this plant than meets the eye. Stick around to find out common mistakes people make when planting this Lilly Pilly and how to avoid them. You’ll also learn how to make the most of its unique features.

Note: There are two types of plants that are referred to as Lilly Pillies: Acmena and Syzygium.

Family and Subfamily: MyrtaceaeMyrtoideae

The Myrtaceae family is rich with around 5,000 species, most being evergreen trees or shrubs like our Syzygium australe. Their leaves often carry a fragrant punch, a trait of the oil glands they house. Icons like Eucalyptus and Melaleuca also hail from this family.

Within this family, the Myrtoideae subfamily is where the Syzygium australe sits. This group is known for their small leaves, numerous stamens, and frequent appearances across Australian forests and heathlands.

Syzygium australe: Basic Information

  • Common Name: Brush Cherry, Scrub Cherry Tree, Lilly Pilly
  • Scientific Name: Syzygium australe
  • Origin: Australia
  • Plant Type: Evergreen tree
  • Size: 3-10 meters tall, 2-5 meters wide
  • Leaf Type: Glossy, dark green, elliptical
  • Flower Colour: Small, white

Appearance and Features

Syzygium australe is an evergreen tree with a dense, compact growth habit. It typically grows between 3-10 meters in height and 2-5 meters in width. The leaves are glossy and green, staying the same colour year-round.

However, new growth is often bronze coloured. In spring and summer, you’ll see clusters of small, white flowers, followed by dark purple or black berries.

Syzygium Australe Lilly Pilly hedge | Plant Profiles

Natural Habitat

Syzygium australe is native to Australia, commonly found in New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria. It thrives in rainforests, forests, and coastal areas.

How to Grow Syzygium australe

Syzygium australe plant | Plant Profiles

People often choose to grow this Lilly Pilly for its dense foliage, which makes excellent privacy screens or hedges. However, it’s not just about looks; this plant is also quite hardy.

Growing Conditions

  • Soil: Well-draining, pH 5.5-6.5
  • Light: Full sun to part shade
  • Climate: Temperate to sub-tropical

Planting Guide

Plant in spring or early autumn. Space them 2-3 meters apart for proper growth.

Care and Maintenance

Water deeply but let the soil dry a bit between waterings. Prune in late winter or early spring. Mulch annually. Feed sparingly; avoid high-phosphorus fertilisers.

Pest and Disease Control

Look out for aphids and scale insects. Treat with insecticidal soap or neem oil. For fungal issues, use a fungicide.

Syzygium australe Varieties

There are a number of varieties and cultivars of this species available in Australia:

  • Syzygium australe ‘Resilience’: Known for its strong resistance to pests and diseases, Syzygium australe ‘Resilience’ is a popular choice for hedging and topiary. It has bright orange berries and glossy green leaves.
  • Syzygium australe ‘Elite’: This variety is dense and great for screening or hedges. It produces pink flowers and dark red berries.
  • Syzygium australe ‘Aussie Compact’: As the name suggests, it’s a compact variety, ideal for smaller gardens or pot culture. It has vibrant reddish-bronze new growth.
  • Syzygium australe ‘Winter Lights’: A Lilly Pilly with bright red new leaves, white flowers, and purple berries. It resists Psyllids and grows up to 4m. Ideal for hedging in full sun to semi-shade on well-drained soils.
  • Syzygium australe ‘Big Red’: Recognised for its brilliant deep red new growth, this variety maintains its colour for longer periods before turning to a glossy green.
  • Syzygium australe ‘Hinterland Gold’: This is a fast-growing variety that has golden-yellow foliage. It’s particularly good for hedging or as a feature tree.
  • Syzygium australe ‘Pinnacle’: ‘Pinnacle’ is a narrow and compact variety, making it ideal for tight planting areas or as a natural, slim hedge. Its leaves exhibit a reddish tinge when they’re young but mature to a rich green. It’s a great choice for tight planting spaces or when a slender, upright shape is desired.
  • Syzygium australe ‘Select Form’: Features glossy green leaves, bronze new growth, and resistance to Psyllid. It blooms white flowers in summer, followed by edible red berries. Grows 3-5m tall and 1.5m wide.
  • Syzygium australe ‘Tiny Trev’: As the name suggests, ‘Tiny Trev’ is a dwarf variety of the Australian Brush Cherry. It has attractive orange-red new growth, which matures to deep green. Due to its compact nature, it’s perfect for small gardens, pots, and borders.

Special Features

Syzygium australe’s dense foliage is great for privacy. Its small, white flowers add a touch of beauty, and the dark purple berries are edible.

Syzygium australe | Plant Profiles

Wildlife and Pollinators

Syzygium australe attracts birds and butterflies, thanks to its flowers and berries.

Uses in the Garden and Beyond

Commonly used as a hedge or privacy screen. The berries are edible and can be used in cooking.

Environmental Benefits

This Lilly Pilly is drought-tolerant, making it a good choice for water-efficient gardens.

Brush Cherry FAQ

How tall does Syzygium australe grow?

It can grow up to 10 meters, especially in coastal areas.

What are the berries of Syzygium australe used for?

The berries are edible and can be used in jams, jellies, and desserts.

Is Syzygium australe native to Australia?

Yes, it’s native to various regions including New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria.

Photo of author

Linda Jones

Based in sunny Brisbane, Linda has a keen interest in ornamental plants. She firmly believes that gardens are as much about aesthetics as they are about functionality. Despite being a life-long gardener, she still enjoys learning about new plants and gardening techniques and sharing her discoveries with the Ultimate Backyard community. When she's not immersed in her garden, Linda loves reading and walking.


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