Syzygium smithii (syn. Acmena smithii)
An erect evergreen tree with dense dark-green foliage that often clothes the tree to the ground. Leaves are opposite and 3 inches long. The white flowers in September are very small but the fruit is a conspicuous, apple-shaped, lavender-pink, edible berry that offers a touch of winter color. One specimen is behind Building 110, but is difficult to distinguish from the nearby grove of Syzygium australe, a related tree of similar appearance belonging to the myrtle family.
Thomas Church used lilly pilly in many of his Bay Area gardens designed in the 1950s and later, often shaped or sheared. Regarding Thomas Church and Stanford: He Changed the Landscape – “The campus was overrun with automobiles and ‘backyard junk.’ Then Thomas Church came along and dreamed up a peripatetic’s paradise.” Stanford Magazine (Jan/Feb 2003).
Name derivation: Acmena (the synonym) – Latin, said to be one of the names of Venus; smithii – honors English botanist James Smith. “Lilly pilly” presumed to be of Autralian Aboriginal orign.
About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. John Rawlings subsequently added the note on Church (c 2005). S. paniculatum mention changed to S. australe (Oct 2017, SP).