Acmena smithii
Family: Myrtaceae
Common name: Lilly-pilly

Lilly Pilly is one of the best-known Australian rainforest plants used in south-eastern Australia. This plant has been used as a single tree or as a hedge since the early 1900s. It has been in continuous use because of this tree’s great adaptability to Melbourne soils, especially sandy or clay loams. Unlike many other Australian evergreens, it thrives in the clay soils in the east and north-east of Melbourne.

Originating in warm-temperate forests from the Northern Territory south to the far-eastern tip of Victoria, Lilly-pilly requires relatively moist soils for rapid growth and healthy appearance over summer. These required irrigation levels decrease as soon as the plant is well-established, but Lilly-pilly will never be a suitable tree for droughty situations or on poor, skeletal soils.

A. smithii will have fragrant white flowers in late spring, and these flowers are followed by fruits—in most Lilly Pillies these are a deep purple. The fruits will normally fall in late autumn if not eaten by birds, but clean up is reasonably quick and simple.

If left to grow without pruning, A. smithii will grow to be an upright-oval tree, maintaining its lower branches. When hedged, Lilly-pilly will be a dense hedge that can be maintained to 4m tall by 2-3m broad. With time, it can grow to be an elegant 5-6m hedge.

Along with the many Syzygium and Waterhousea selections now available, A. smithii is an excellent evergreen tree that can be put to a number of uses.

Typical mature height: variable, to 15m
Useful in: streetscapes, avenues, screening

Sites for best growth: moisture-retentive, irrigated