The lilly pilly is one of the most popular plants in Australia today, particularly for hedging and topiary. Lilly pillies are evergreen rainforest plants with glossy green leaves. Many varieties have flushes of colourful new growth, ranging from brilliant pink to a red-brown. In spring to early summer most lilly pillies have fluffy white or greenish flowers followed by long lasting red,pink, purple or whitish berries. There are many, many species and cultivars on the market. Of these, a few are misnamed, while some perform better than others in gardens.
Confusion over names
Once lilly pillies were all known as eugenias. In recent years botanists have divided them into several genera, including Acmena, Syzygium and Waterhousea. Adding to the confusion, many growers have given lilly pillies marketing names. Sometimes the same plant will have several names. For example the lilly pilly sold as ‘Elite’ is thought to be identical to one sold as ‘Aussie Compact’. As well, some plants are sold under the wrong botanic name. Many lilly pillies for example are labelled Syzygium paniculatum, but are actually forms of S. australe. It is very important that these plants are correctly identified, particularly when they are used mainly as foliage plants, and the foliage of some species is very susceptible to attack by a pest called the lilly pilly psyllid.