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Brush cherry (Eugenia myrtifolia) - Jardin botanique Val Rahmeh-Menton © MNHN - Agnès Iatzoura
Brush cherry (Eugenia myrtifolia) - Jardin botanique Val Rahmeh-Menton © MNHN - Agnès Iatzoura

Brush cherry

This species, Eugenia myrtifolia, is native to Australia. The edible fruit, which have a sour flavour, are eaten raw or are made into jam or jelly. It is mainly cultivated as a decorative plant.

Identity Card

Common name
Brush cherry, Lilly pilly
Binominal name
Eugenia myrtifolia Sims.

Taxonomy

Kingdom
Plantae
Family
Myrtaceae
Synonyms
Syzygium australe (J. C. Wendl. ex Link) B. Hyland

Detailed Informations

Area of origin
Australia (Queensland and New South Wales)

Etymology

Eugenia is a genus named in honour of Prince Eugene of Savoy. Myrtifolia means, in latin, “with leaves similar to those of Myrtles”.

Description and flowering period

Eugenia myrtifolia is an australian rainforest tree reaching up to 35 meters in height in its natural habitat but rarely over 18 meters high in cultivation. Its trunk reaches over 60cm in diameter. The leaves are lanceolate (spearhead-shaped), rather small (4 to 8cm long), shiny, green which darkens as the leaf ages. The red grouped flower-buds give way to dense clusters of white flowers. The flowers’ many slender stamens give them an ethereal appearance. The fruits are drupes (fleshy fruit containing a single stone) reminiscent of cherries. They are rounded or ovoid and have pink skin and flesh.

Habitat

It requires a fresh yet well drained location in full sun or part-shade. The plant can resist occasional short spells of light frost.

Uses

  • Ornamental, as avenue trees, hedges and bonsai.
  • Food & drink: The pleasantly sour fruit can be eaten fresh or cooked. The fruit can also be used to make jams and jellies.

Notes

Brush cherry is commonly cultivated in gardens in eastern Australia, mostly as shorter, shrub-like cultivars such as "Aussie Compact", "Minipilly" and "Tiny Trev". These are especially popular as hedges. The species has been adopted by Coffs Harbour City Council as the City's floral emblem.

Translated by: François Saint-Hillier – MNHN

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