Like a series of stars bursting forth from a super nova or like the glam jam of an 80's hair band comes, from Queensland, Australia, a flower of dynamic deliciousness. Something about its image conjures up the song 'Mickey' by 80's one hit wonder Toni Basil. Remember that one? Why, you say? Well, the common names of this plant are Powderpuff Lillypilly and Pom Pom Tree. Introducing Syzygium wilsonii. I encountered this shrub the other day and realized I haven't seen anything like it before. The flowers were the first thing to grab my attention. They were bottlebrush-like but not your typical bottlebrush. They are spherical in appearance and roughly the size of a grapefruit. A big ol' blast of bottlebrush filaments the color of luscious cherry. Very Dr. Seuss.
Turns out Syzygium wilsonii isn't commonly known horticulturally or found in many gardens, yet it should be! Now I've been going on about the flowers but it's also the new growth of this shrub that is extraordinary. New growth comes out in luxurious, glossy new foliage and stems both deeply saturated in rich red or blazing bronze color. As the smooth foliage matures, its coloring shifts into a fresh and gorgeous green . In spring, clusters of elongated grape-like clusters of flower buds form at the ends of weeping stems. By late spring and early summer, buds burst forth with colorful stamens looking like noise makers on New Year's Eve. Once all the buds have opened, the stamens create a stunning inflorescence of floral fantasy that nectar loving birds and bees go crazy for. After the fantastical flowers fade, striking berries form looking like ivory blueberries. Very nifty. I hear they're edible but intensely sour. Syzygium wilsonii can grow up to 8 feet tall and wide. It has a fountain-like form growing upright with sprawling, arching branches. It would look cool as a specimen against a wall where it could show off all of its glory and grooviness.
Syzygium wilsonii likes to grow in part sun to shaded situations. It likes well-draining, compost rich soil, regular to low water, and is hardy down to around 30 degrees fahrenheit/-1 degree celsius. It makes a cool specimen in a container as well as in the ground. To keep it looking lush and not leggy, prune it back after flowering and fruiting has finished. Also, for intense flowering, grow it in a cool, protected spot sheltered from winds. Now finding one of these babies can be difficult, so ask around for it at botanical garden sales or look online for specialty plant mail order. If I ever find out where to get one, I'll pass it along. To see it blooming, live and in concert, is awesome! It may just blow your mind.