Winter brings with it lillipilli trees heavy with fruit. Footpaths and roads are buried beneath the purple fruit, and trees in parks and streets shiver heavily with the berries. An indigenous food plant of tropical and subtropical Australia, despite their ubiquity here in Adelaide, lillipillies (Syzygium sp.) still seem to transform many faces into a mask of terror when they see others popping the shiny berries into their mouth. Their arrival at winter Urban Orchards has provoked plenty of discussion – from participants incredulous that they’re edible at all, to the reminisces of participants who have spent time in South East Asia and who are reminded of forgotten tropical fruits with every crisp, subtle bite.
Following one particular Urban Orchard, I came home with a shopping bag full of lillipillies, gleaned from the South parklands. I’d remembered that Vic Cherikoff’s Bushfood Handbook contained some super-retro lillipilly concoction, and I was keen to expand my experience of this under utilised semi-wild food.