Syzygium australe (J.C.Wendl. ex Link) B.Hyland
(Myrtaceae — the gum family)
common names: Brush Cherry, Scrub Cherry, Australian Rose Apple
This is an Australian native, found in or bordering on rainforest, and along fresh-water streams, and is another example of ‘bush tucker’. It is very common along the streams in the western suburbs of Brisbane. It is a densely growing evergreen small tree or shrub, growing up to 20 m high in its natural state, but in cultivation usually growing only up to about 8 m. It is suitable for hedging or screen planting. Young trees make excellent indoor plants.
Profuse fluffy cream flowers are produced in summer and autumn, followed by clusters of fragrant, edible deep pink to mauve berries about 15 mm long, with a single seed. These are crisp and apple-like in taste, with a hint of cloves. They make good jams, relishes, desserts, tarts, pies, cakes and ice cream, as well as being a useful ingredient of both salads and fruit salads, muesli, and as a glaze for meat.
The plant may be grown from seed or from cuttings.
The brush cherry, when in flower or fruit, attracts birds. It is also popular with possums.
The shrub shown was planted 9 or 10 years ago, and has this year (2012) produced its first buds; but after persisting on the plant for several weeks, they fell off without opening.
The brush cherry is a useful species in land regeneration programmes, both as temporary cover in land that has been seriously degraded, where it can be planted to protect the young plants of the main species that will later form the main vegetation, and also as an undergrowth species in land that is only partly degraded.
Photographs © Donald Simpson, taken at Picnic Bay 2008, 2012