Thursday, June 10, 2010

Syzygium luehmannii

Syzygium luehmannii is a medium sized coastal rainforest tree. Common names include Riberry, Small Leaved Lilli Pilli, Cherry Satinash, Cherry Alder, or Clove Lilli Pilli.

The habitat is Australian riverine, littoral, subtropical or tropical rainforest . It grows on volcanic soils or deep sandy soils between the Macleay River in New South Wales to near Cairns in tropical Queensland. It is commonly grown as an ornamental tree, and for its fruit, known as a Riberry.

Occasionally reaching 30 metres in height and a 90 cm in trunk diameter. The tree's crown is dense with small leaves, above a tall straight trunk. Large trees are buttressed at the base. The bark is red brown, light grey or pinkish grey with soft papery scales.

The small, glossy, lance-shaped leaves are pink/red when young. They are opposite, simple, entire, lanceolate to ovate. 4 to 5 cm long drawn out to a long prominent point. Leaf stalks 2 to 3 mm long.

Flowers form in November or December. They are in small panicles at the ends of branchlets, half the length of the leaves or less. The white or cream petals form in fours or fives, 1.5 mm long. Stamens 2 to 5 mm long.

The fruit matures from December to February, being a pear shaped red berry, known as a Riberry, growing to 13 mm long, covering a single seed, 4 mm in diameter. Seed germination is unreliable, complete after 25 days, however cuttings strike readily. Fruit are eaten by Australasian Figbird and Emu.

Uses and cultivation
The tree commonly only reaches 7 metres in cultivation. The berry has a tart, cranberry-like flavor, that has a hint of cloves. It has been popular as a gourmet bushfood since the early 1980’s, and is commercially cultivated on a small-scale basis.

The fruit is most commonly used to make a distinctively flavoured jam, and is also used in sauces, syrups and confectionery. The riberry plant is also very popular as a garden ornamental and street tree. It is easily maintained as a smaller tree by light pruning.

See Also: florists CA, gift baskets, China flowers

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