Syzygium oleosum (MYRTACEAE); Blue lilly pilly, scented satinash

Small tree to about 10m found in sub-tropical, warm temperate and littoral rainforests, north from the Wollongong area in NSW.

With a widely spreading crown, this species is often quite common in areas of regrowth, especially on hillsides of abandoned or neglected pasture - in such open areas it can often be bushy to almost ground level.

Leaves vary from oblong-elliptical through to lance-shaped, to about 10cm x 3.5cm, with a tapered base and the tip drawn out to a narrow point. Hairless, they are darker and more glossy above, the lateral veins more easily seen in dried leaves. Petioles about 3-6 mm in length.

Oil dots are numerous, very obvious and translucent, and the leaves are quite aromatic when crushed, with a lemony scent.

Flowers, white and fluffy, are borne in small clusters in upper leaf axils.

Fruit a rounded or urn-shaped berry mostly about 15mm in diameter, but sometimes larger, purplish red but becoming blue with ripening, more or less succulent and crowned by the persistent sepals. Ripe March to October.

Plants are easily grown and quite adaptable to soil and to climate, and the fruit is quite palatable. However, although bronze-coloured flushes of new growth are attractive the leaves are also prone to psyllid damage and sometimes scale.

Propagation is generally from fresh seed but cuttings also are fairly easy to strike - this can be useful as often a high percentage of fruit are galled and will not germinate.