A Sandy Beach Almanac

You've landed at Sandy Beach, NSW, Australia: Lat. -30.15331, Long. 153.19960, UT +10:00 – local map & zoom Google map. I live in a cabin on this beach, 25 kilometres north of the traffic and shops of Coffs Harbour, 600 km north of Sydney. My intention is to post observations of Nature and life within 1 km (1,000 paces) of my South Pacific home.


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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

You say lilly pilly, I say ... OK, whatever

It's hard to know how to spell these pretties.

Alternative spellings are legion: Lilly pilly, Lillipilly, Lillipillies, Lilly-pilly, Lilly-pillies, Lily Pilly, Lily Pillies, Lilly Pillies, Lily-Pilly, Lily-Pillies. "Although the name today is the common name of Acmena smithii, other species of the genera Acmena, Syzygium and Waterhousia are loosely called lilly pillies and this term is often included in their common names," this site tells me, so now I know.

These pretty shrubs are rainforest plants endemic to Australia, but they grow in other places as well, such as half the gardens in Oz, and in the scrub behind Sandy Beach, where I took this photo this morning while on my flaneur. I was actually looking for two huge birds that I briefly saw in the big mango tree outside my window, as they flew off quickly and I thought they might have gone behind the beach. They were really big -- about the size of black cockatoos, and might have been, but I only caught a glimpse and now I guess I'll never know. I haven't heard any cockies today and it doesn't look like rain. In fact, it's a superb day, real T-shirt weather.

They're related to the gum trees (Eucalyptus), like almost everything else in this country, and even on Winter Solstice (today) the bush is cheered by their berries about the size of a small strawberry, which comes in all reddish shades (according to species) from almost white, through pink, even hot pink, to fire engine red.

When the first non-indigenous people arrived on these shores and were looking for food in those near-famine days of the late 1700s, they found the lilly pilly, which must have been good tucker for Aboriginal people for about 50,000 years before that.

One of the best lilli pillies for the garden, by the way, is the pale-fruited wilsonii. :)

Here are some recipes: Lilly pilly and pear cake; Lilly pilly whip and Lilly pilly jelly. Rainforest Foods sell Lilly pilly jam.

Want to cultivate a lilly pilly in the garden? Burke's Backyard has a page on how.


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