Rose apple - the name says it all!

This year has seen bumper crops on many fruiting trees – we got a good haul of rose apples this year, in spite of the possums.

Rose apple is a member of the lillypilly family, Syzygium jambos. It isn’t native, though there are a couple of rainforest trees with the same common name. S. jambos is native to South-East Asia, where it is better known as the watery rose apple.

There are other related plants grown in Asia that are supposed to have better quality pink fruit. My Thai friend tasted our rose apples and immediately said ‘Oh, chompoo’, so it obviously tastes much like the fruits of her childhood.

Our rose apple is a creamy colour when ripe. Fortunately, it isn’t the colour of the fruit which gives the common name, but the taste. They have the most delicious rose flavour, tinged with lemon and apple. Yummy!

The tree is very hardy and has attractive foliage. Ours have grown to about four metres in 20 years, given no additional water or feeding, and suffering occasional brief inundations. They are said to get to about 9m eventually and to spread out into a good shade tree. Ours are very shrubby, which is great because they hold the fruit down low where we can get them. I expect you could prune them into a permanent tall hedge if you wanted to.

Of course, the fruit do attract fruit fly, not to mention possums etc. Despite all this we still got enough fruit this year to eat fresh in fruit salads and to dry as a snack. Sliced rose apples dry in a couple of days, though much of the perfume is lost, unfortunately. You can also make a syrup by cooking rose apples with sugar and water. Nice diluted for drinking, or straight as an ice-cream topping.


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