Tag Archives: edible

Samphire

Sarcocornia quinqueflora

“A small, erect, leafless herb with succulent stems” NPOS p. 396

I came across this field of samphire in the salt flats of Moores Creek. I was there looking for remains of a footbridge from an old photo that was supposedly built during WWI as part of a military training exercise. There was no evidence of a bridge, and the creek looked different enough from the photo that it made me doubt I was in the right place.

Samphire. A small succulent edible herb that grown in salt marshes

While poking about among the mangroves the Samphire stood out as another plant I was unfamiliar with. Samphire is a small, growing to 30cm, leafless succulent herb that grows in dense colonies on salt marshes. I can’t recall seeing it before, I’ll probably notice it everywhere now.

A field of samphire on the salt flats of Moores Creek in Garigal National Park

I’ve since learnt that it’s edible too, I must go back to try some!

Crucifix Orchid

Epidendrum ibaguense

The crucifix Orchid is popular among the houses in our area. It must have been fashionable at some time in past, or possibly have spread itself from a single stating point. It’s a hardy plant that has taken over large areas of the garden without any special care. It grows as dense stands to about 1.5m high. Individual plants consist of a thin bamboo like central stem with thick oval shaped leaves sprouting directly off it in an alternating pattern.

I just read that the leaves of the purple variety are edible and taste like watermelon. Well, I just tried a leaf from one of the orange ones and they taste like watermelon too! More like artificial watermelon flavour, kind of like watermelon flavoured Nerds.

The flowers are the most striking part of the plant, the varieties in our garden bloom in clusters of vivid red or orange flowers. Each individual flower has a cross shape, hence the name.

As well as seeding, the plant spreads by growing small daughter plants complete with roots from off it’s central stem. The daughter then breaks off, takes root and grows into a new plant.

I’ve removed a lot of crucifix orchid from the garden already, I’d like to get rid of most of it, thankfully the roots are shallow making it easy to pull out.

Crucifix Orchid
Orange Crucifix Orchid
Crucifix Orchids
Crucifix Orchids growing in a crack in a rock. The Wallabies snack on them.

More Info:

The Queensland Gardening Pages

 

Heart Garden Friends 

Broadleaf Grass-tree

Xanthorrhoea arborea

“A grass tree to 4m tall, with an aerial trunk” – NPOS p.278

Another unique and distinctive plant of the Australian bush. Grass trees have a short stout trunk that is often burned black from previous bush fires terminating with a dense tuft of long grass like leaves radiating from the crown. They are very slow growing at a rate of only 1cm per year, that makes a little 30cm tall plant almost as old as me! They make up for it in life span living up to 600 years old. Every year grass trees sprout a large ( up to 2m ) woody spike from the center of their leafy crown. The top section of the spike is densely covered in small nectar rich flowers.

They were a very useful plant to Aboriginies, the nectar from the flowers can be licked off, or the entire flower head soaked in water to make a sweet drink, enjoyed fresh or slightly fermented. The flower spikes were uses as spear shafts and resin could be collected from the trunks and the leaf basses and processed to be used for tools and weapons.

I’ve always wanted a grass tree in the garden, I recently bought one from a local nursery. It’s a Xanthorrhoea johnsonii which I’ve now learned is more of a Northern NSW and Queensland species, I hope it does ok here. But not too well, don’t want it colonizing the bush and competing with the native ones!

Broadleaf Grass Tree
Broadleaf Grass Tree growing in the bush behind the house. The trunk is hidden by the leaves but it's probably 60cm tall, making this plant about 60 years old.
Grass tree leaves
Close up of the leaves of the grass tree. The grey colouring on the underside is a powdery resiny coating that can be wiped off.
Grass Tree Leaves
The dense leafy crown of the grass tree

more info:

Gymea Lily

Doryanthus excelsa

“A colossal leafy herb with stiff flowering stem 3-4m tall bearing a dense cluster of large red flowers” – NPOS p.226

The Gymea lilly is exotic looking with it’s huge sword like leaves radiating from it’s base and the towering stem with large flower on top. It’s a popular garden plant, and impressive that it’s naturally occurring in the area. I can’t remember every having seen one outside of peoples gardens though.

Compare the NSW excelsa with the Queensland palmeri, so similar, yet having the flowers grow all the up the stem really sets them apart.

The stems and roots of the Gymea Lily are edible and were consumed by Aborigines.

Gymea Lily
Gymea Lily in the gardens outside the office
Gymea Lily Flower Head
The flower head of another Gymea Lily outside the office