Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia


Syzygium alliiligneum

The Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan - September

Common name onionwood, puddenwood
Scientific name Syzygium alliiligneum B.Hyland
Family  Myrtaceae

Genus: Syzygium - From the Greek, syzgos, ‘jointed’; refers to the paired leaves and branchlets of a Jamaican species (Calyptranthes zuzygium) for which the name was originally used.

Species: alliiligneum - From Latin, allium, garlic; and Latin, lignum, wood. The timber has sections of bark included in the wood, these lenses of bark form onion-like concentric rings seen in stem cross sections.

Distribution Restricted to north-eastern Queensland, between Cape Tribulation and Tully.
Native habitat In rainforests from the lowlands to about 700 m.
Description Small to medium tree with white flowers and red fleshy fruit.
Flowering/fruiting Flowers in February to March in its natural distribution, August to September at Mount Annan.

Location in Garden

In Bed 263, between the Bowden Centre and the Garden Shop.


There is only one tree at Mount Annan which is fruiting well at the moment. Staff from the Rainforest Project, who are investigating storage techniques for rainforest seeds, are interested in studying this species, but so far the fruit has been infertile. This infertility may be due to any of a number of causes. For example, perhaps it needs specific pollinators which don’t occur this far south, or perhaps it needs more than one tree to enable cross-pollination.

In Queensland, this fruit forms part of the diet of cassowaries. They eat the fruit whole, digest the flesh over a period of time and then excrete the seeds. The time taken for digestion allows the seeds to be carried a long way from the parent plant thus aiding distribution of the species.

Available from specialist native plant nurseries.