Native Food Plants

Native Food plants can be integrated into agroforesty plantations adding greater productivity to the system. Those listed here are some of the more well known, and plants can be sourced through the Otway Agroforestry Network.

plant-mountain-pepper

Mountain Pepper (Tasmannia Ianceolata)

Mountain Pepper grows naturally in the cool wet areas of Victoria, NSW and Tasmania and is used extensively as a flavouring. It has a natural anti bacterial and fungicidal qualities which give it the potential to be used commercially as a food preservative. Leaves can be used fresh or dried while the berries can be dried and ground as pepper. Oil can also be extracted from the leaves. Demand for Mountain Pepper is currently higher than supply and local markets are virtually unexplored.

Mountain Pepper requires a well drained but moist and shaded site, as mentioned it is naturally a wet forest understorey plant and due to its primitive root system suffers from harsh dry winds and heat. It grows well under drip irrigation with mulch to keep the roots cool. Partial shade can also assist in summer conditions. To ensure survival of seedlings it is best to use larger potted plants with well developed root systems rather than tube-stock of recently struck cuttings. Plants from 10cm or 14cm pots seem to establish better but still need some water and care in the first couple of years.

Mountain Pepper can be harvested or “hedged” if planted in rows.

plant-river-mint

River Mint (Mentha australis)

Indigenous to the damper areas of Victoria, NSW, and Tasmania, River Mint is a low-creeping groundcover that naturally grows in and around waterways. It grows in shade or full sun and prefers free draining soil.

It can be harvested 3-5 times per year, dried quickly in the dark and is used in cheeses and teas. It can also be eaten fresh as a salad flavouring.

plant-lemon-myrtle

Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriadora)

Naturally occurring in NSW and Queensland Lemon Myrtle is a subtropical rainforest species but can adapt to temperate areas where frost is not severe.

Lemon Myrtle has been used for its lemon scent and flavouring and for numerous cooking and domestic purposes.

plant-muntries

Muntries (Kunzea pomifera)

Muntries are indigenous to south west Victoria and generally grow in sandy areas around the coast and in the Mallee. Until trained on a trellis they grow prostrate producing a crop of fruit similar in appearance to small apples. They are used in jams and flavouring.

plant-round-leaf-mint

Round Leaf Mint (Prostanthera rotundifolia)

Growing naturally in the Grampians in full sun or shade, it grows to 2-3 meters. It is very tough and has an 8-10 year life span but does not like wet feet. It is a good hedging plant that suppresses weeds. It also has natural antifungal and anti bacterial qualities. Round Leaf Mint produces around 0.5kg of dried leaf per plant per harvest (around 1.5Kg/year) and is used as food flavouring and tea.

plant-riberries

Riberry (Syzygium luemannii)

The most popular of the Lilly Pillies in cultivation, growing to about 10m and produces pear shaped pink to red berries that have a clove like flavour. The fruit can be added to fruit salads or blended in sauces and served with native meats. Riberries can be frost tender, are adaptable to a range of soil types but prefer good drainage and moisture. An added bonus is that birds dislike the berry fruit!