Lillipilli, or Syzygium australe: four stars for what is usually a four star fruit. There is, sir, no greater satisfaction in the world than the providence of found fruits. Who among us hasn’t known the joy of plucking a midnight lemon from a neighbour’s tree, before retiring to their metal box to suck the dribblesome juices?
The joy of stolen fruit is a large part of the satisfaction of the lillipilli. Lillipilli grows on streets, along verges, as hedges, or as trees, and they fruit in summer. Wherever you walk in Sydney, you will find lillipilli trees. The small, tart and crisp fruit is delicious, and there is a slight hint of cloves (Syzygium aromaticum). There is a lot of variation across the different species and cultivars, so every tree is an adventure.
The scientist and explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, in his seminal work Journal of an Overland Expedition in Australia, from Moreton Bay to Port Essington: A Distance of Upwards of 3000 Miles, During the Years 1844-1845, said of the lillipilli: “I appeased my craving hunger, which had been well tried for twenty-four hours, on the small fruit of a species of Acmena which grew near the rocks that bounded the sandy flats, until my companions brought my share of stewed green hide.”
I took the phial from my satchel, and showed it to my eldest nephew.
“This,” I said, “is what we are going to put in you.”
I opened the phial, and the smell of bitter mountain herbs filled the air, along with burdock, apple spice, and thujone. My eldest nephew raised his head to look at the phial, and then went back to sleep.
I asked Henry Erstwhile to open my nephew’s mouth, and poured the contents of the phial down into his open throat. With such bitter medicine, my nephew would be better in hardly any time. I gave Henry a positive hand signal, and he closed my nephew’s throat. When I looked down at the phial again, I noticed that it was still full. I asked Henry to re-open the throat, and poured more carefully, this time ensuring that the liquid left the phial and entered my nephew’s throat. When I looked back down after having finished pouring, I saw that the contents had returned once more.