Sweet and sour Rainforest Cherries
Found in the rainforests of New South Wales, this tree has stunning bright-red fruit. We love this cherry in everything from salads to desserts. It’s tart with a hint of sweetness. If you can’t get it fresh, use frozen and thawed.
Syzygium aqueum is a species of brush cherry tree. Its common names include watery rose apple; names like "water apple" and "bell fruit" may refer to any species of Syzygium grown for its fruit.
The tree is cultivated for its wood and edible fruit. The fruit is a fleshy yellow or red berry which is bell shaped, waxy and crisp. The wood is hard and can be used to make tools. The bark of the tree is sometimes used in herbal medicines.
◎ Common Name: Rainforest Cherry, Water Apple, Bell Fruit
◎ Scientific or Latin Name: Syzygium aqueum
◎ Comparison: Sour cherry
◎ Seasonality: All year frozen
◎ Region: Northern NSW
◎ Taste Profile: The fruit has a very mild and slightly sweet taste similar to apples, and a crisp watery texture like the inside of a watermelon.
◎ Types: Botanically, it belongs to the Myrtaceae family and genus Syzygium.
- Rainforest Cherries possess rich amount of iron, calcium, fibre, and protein.
- They are high in vitamins A and C.
Aboriginal & Traditional
Traditionally the fruit was eaten raw and the leaves were used for their natural antibiotic properties. The wood was also used by the Aboriginal people to make pestles and coconut husking stakes.
Western & Modern
High in antioxidants, the fruit can be eaten as a cherry fresh out of hand or used as a cherry and made into pie, preserves, sauce, and chutney. They can be added to fruit tarts, cakes, and muffins or used to top ice cream or yogurt. The cherries can be pressed to make a delicious sweet-tart juice for use in cocktails or smoothies or to flavour candy.
Beyond its use ornamental or culinary use, beach cherry wood is tough and makes great firewood.
Syzygium aqueum has a polyphenol-rich leaf extract which exhibits antioxidant, hepatoprotective, pain-killing and anti-inflammatory activities.
Various parts of the tree are used in traditional medicine, and some have in fact been shown to possess antibiotic activity. The dried leaves are eaten with vegetables, or the fresh leaves are eaten raw, as a treatment for malaria and pneumonia. An infusion of the leaves is used in the treatment of stomach aches and dysentery.
Note: The term 'Bush Tucker' and 'Bush Food' are not Warndu's preferred terms for Australian Native Ingredients or Australian Botanicals.
Images: © Luisa Brimble