Thursday, January 26, 2017

Lilly Pilly

Today is Australia Day. I chose a photo of some Lilly Pilly berries as a celebratory image for this national day. Lilly Pilly is  a common name for a plant, Syzygium smithii which grows mostly in Eastern Australia, from the northern  rain forests of Queensland, throughout NSW to the southern Wilson's Promontory in Victoria. In New Zealand it is called "monkey apple, but other names used in Australia, besides lilly pilly, are Eungella Gum and Coast Satinash. The largest Lilly Pilly recorded was found in Dingo Creek Flora Reserve, near Tenterfield where I once lived.  The tree now growing in my garden was once a small seedling which I was gifted when I left Woolgoolga, a small coastal town in northern NSW. Its name  is said to come from the Aboriginal word 'weelgoolga' describing the lilly pilly which grows in profusion there.

It is probably no surprise that the lilly pilly berries are edible as bush tucker, and make a beautiful jam or jelly. I have even seen recipes for lilly pilly crumble, but possibly a popular choice for Australia Day might be Lilly Pilly Champagne . The recipe is on this site.
One of the Lilly Pilly varieties, Syzygium luehmannii, has more elongated and darker berries, and these have become a culinary favourite - riberries. 

The Lilly Pilly ( seen featured on an Australian Bush Tucker postage stamp series) has even been named a new  "super food". However, for thousands of years, Aboriginal people on the east coast, relied upon riberries as a core food source. The fruit was usually picked and gathered by women and children. While children thought of the berries as delicious sweet treats, adults commonly referred to them as “medicine berries”. Riberries provided essential vitamins and minerals to keep the immune system healthy and strong. The pulp was also used to treat ear infections. - See more at:

Lilly Pilly is also a character featured in the Australian  Snugglepot and Cuddlepie stories written by May Gibbs. The Gum Blossom, Lilly Pilly, is a famous actress and stars in her father, Mr Pilly’s, movies shown at the Lilly Pilly Picture Palace. She adopts Little Ragged Blossom and brings her to live in her home and be her little sister. ( from 
Lilly Pilly and Little Ragged Blossom from "The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie" 
You have probably guessed by now  that the Lilly Pilly, is one of my favourite plants in my garden, and I try to feature it whenever I can, even in my art. 
Lilly Pilly Art Tag from the series A-Z Australian Plants. - Wilma Simmons

Happy Australia Day! 

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