Along with our brand-new Bush Tucker Trail look, now available in the Plant Life Balance app, we thought we’d share some native edibles that you can possibly find (or can grow) in your garden, almost no matter where you live. Our native edibles expert Narelle Happ (from A Garden Life in St Peters, NSW), shares some of her favourites.
How to grow native edibles at home
“I grow my bush foods in a food forest style, with a top canopy and layers underneath. Having said that, there is an edible native food for any home garden situation no matter what the size, including pots. From groundcovers such as Mentha species, to strappy plants such as Bulbines and Dichopogons to small shrubs such as Austromyrtus dulcis – Midyim berries or Kunzea pomifera – Muntries, to medium shrubs such as the Citrus australasica – Finger Limes, to larger trees where the list is endless. Even the larger trees such as Backhousia citriodora – Lemon Myrtle can be grown in a large pot or used as hedge and its height maintained. This can be done with any of the edible tree species.”
Backhousia citriodora – Lemon Myrtle
“Lemon Myrtle can be used in so many ways – from a fresh leaf tea to a dry leaf tea, ground up and used in desserts, or used for cooking with fish and meat. It can be turned into a refreshing cold drink and a bunch hanging in your home can be used as an air freshener. Medicinally, Backhousia citriodora has many uses from antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties and is used in aromatherapy and in body products. There is much research going into this plant.”
Carpobrotus glaucescens – Pig Face
“This plant grows down on our beach fronts and can be recognised by its distinct succulent-type foliage and bright pink flowers in spring and summer. The fruit tastes like a salty strawberry or lychee. The leaves can be roasted and the juice from the leaves when fresh can help with stings and bites and for soothing sunburn.”
Tetragonia tetragonioides – Warrigal Greens
“This also grows down near waterways and is a delicious native spinach. I prefer to blanch before eating and can be added to any dish that you would use for greens. It also makes a delicious pesto!”
You can make Narrelle’s Warrigal Greens pesto with your kids for some fun in the kitchen – head here to see the recipe.
Rhagodia, Atriplex, Einadia species – Saltbush
“Saltbush is a huge group of plants and there is a different species in every state. They have edible leaves and berries depending on the species. Councils will often list the Saltbush growing in your area for identification.”
Get cooking with Saltbush with Narelle’s easy Wattleseed and Saltbush Damper recipe.
Syzygium, Acmena species – Lilly Pilly
“These beautiful berries are fruiting prolifically right now. From deep crimson to light pink. They can be eaten raw or cooked into jams, jellies and chutney.”
Make your own jam with Narelle’s special recipe.
All native food plants can be (and were) used in multiple ways from tonics to poultices. Narelle’s other favourites include:
- Prostanthera rotundifolia – Native Thyme
- Podocarpus elatus – Illawarra Plum
- Alpinia caerulea – Native Ginger
For further information on these plants, including whether they’re suitable and/or available for purchase in your region, head to your nearest Plant Life Balance accredited nursery and have a chat with the professionals.