Lilly Pilly

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Lilly Pilly hedge

Lilly Pilly

The word Acmena actually comes from the Greek, and it means bountiful or buxom, referring to the flowers and fruit produced by members of the genus. Commonly known as lillypillys, they are handsome rainforest trees native to Australia and south-east Asia.

Acmena smithii has long been a popular garden plant, most often used as an attractive, hardy screen or hedge, but there’s also a variegated form of Acmena smithii, which is not so well known.

Plant details

Common name: Variegated lilly pilly

Botanical name: Acmena smithii ‘Variegated’

Description: An evergreen tree or large shrub, which has cream and green foliage with flushes of pink new growth. In summer small fluffy white flowers are followed by pink to mauve edible berries. Unpruned it will grow about 3-5m (10-15′) tall.

Best climate: Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, tropical areas and warm sheltered parts of Adelaide.

Best look:

  • Hedges
  • Native gardens
  • Rainforest gardens
  • Foliage contrast
  • Topiary

Good points:

  • Hardy, tolerates wet conditions
  • Bird attracting
  • Edible pink/mauve berries
  • Variegated leaves with pink new growth
  • Not affected by lilly pilly psyllid (pimple psyllid)

Down side:

If planted too close to paving succulent fruit can be messy and slippery


  • Full sun or part shade
  • Well drained, moderately fertile soil
  • Adequate water
  • Protection from strong winds

Getting started: The green form of Acmena smithii is readily available, but you may have to order Acmena smithii ‘Variegated’ from your local nursery. It retails at around $6-$8 for 150mm (6″) sized pots.