Syzygium paniculatum, commonly known as Magenta Lillypilly, is a broad dense bushy rainforest tree native to New South Wales. It belongs to Family Myrtaceae. It grows to a height of 15 m with trunk diameter up to 35 cm.
The bark of the tree trunk is brown, flaky, soft and scaly, with fine fissures.
Leaves are opposite in pairs, simple and slightly obovate (with an egg-shaped outline and a broad apex , tapering at the leaf base). 3–9 cm long, 1.5–3 cm wide. The leaves are dark glossy above, and paler below; lateral veins numerous, intramarginal vein usually discernible; petiole 5–10 mm long.
During early summer white flowers are produced in clusters, grouped in small terminal or axillary panicles of a few flowers on short stalks. The arrangement is known as paniculate inflorescence.
Calyx : 4 free small sepals in green colour.
Corolla : 4 free small and round petals in white colour, about 4 – 5 mm.
Androecium : numerous long protruding stamens in white colour, about 8 – 15 mm long.
Gynoecium : The position of the ovary is below that of the calyx, corolla and stamen. This is known as epigynous flower.
After fertilisation, the stamen and petals fall off from the flower. The fertilized ovules slowly develop into embryos. The ovary also grows and develops.
The fruit continues to grow and enlarge. The colour changes from green to magenta. The mature fruit is globose to ovoid in shape, 15–25 mm diameter. The fruit is edible, crisp and slightly acidic pulp. Ripe in autumn and winter.
There is only one seed in each fruit. The seed is polyembryonic (a few embryos inside). The cotyledons are smooth.
In late summer (February in Sydney), the fruits mature, detach from the branchlets and fall onto the ground. Footpaths near the trees are covered with crushed fruits and seeds. This makes the footpath colourful and is quite a special scene, some may say chaotic.
It is commonly cultivated in eastern Australia and elsewhere. Well known as an edible wild fruit with a pleasantly sour apple-like flavour. It is eaten fresh or cooked into jam.
It was probably the first fruit sampled by Cook’s party in 1770. Banks’ journal records: They (Cook and Solander) also found several trees of Jambosa kind, much in colour and shape resembling cherries; of these they eat plentifully and brought home also abundance, which we eat with much pleasure though they had little to recommend them but a light acid.’ (from Les Robinson ( 1991) Field Guide to the Native Plants of Sydney)
I would like to thank sincerely Mr Andrew Orme of The Royal Botanic Gardens for his advice and guidance.
Robinson, Les ( 1991) Field Guide to the Native Plants of Sydney. Kangaroo Press. ISBN 0-86417-639-2