ASIAN HERBS Heartleaf – Houttuynia cordata.

Paul Plant

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Almost everyone is familiar with the traditional European herbs, such as basil, rosemary and parsley. Most keen gardeners are also familiar with Vietnamese mint, Mexican coriander and Thai basil. However there are many more herbs, particularly from Asia, South and Central America and Africa that add wonderful and unique flavours to international dishes.
Heartleaf (Houttuynia cordata) is a moisture loving herbaceous plant native to China, Japan, Taiwan, Bhutan and Nepal. It is now widely cultivated throughout Asia due to its significance in providing flavour to cooked dishes.

Although normally seen as a squat clumping plant in semi-submerged pots in ponds, it can grow up to 80cm tall in ideal conditions and can vigorously spread laterally from underground stems. Control the size of this plant by growing it in pots.

Stems are red toned and leaves are highly ornamental – heart-shaped
10-15cm long and 5-8cm wide. They are dull green with a purplish tint to its edges.

The summer inflorescence is a short yellowish spike with 4 white bracts.

More information on the following topics is included:

  • Cultivation
  • Uses
  • Medicinal
From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty
The species Houttuynia cordata in flower.
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Arno King

Chaya is one of the hardiest vegetables you can grow – the ideal vegetable for the ‘brown thumb’ or busy gardener. It loves heat and humidity, can tolerate extreme drought, is pest free, and lives for many decades. It is also a decorative shrub. It certainly deserves to be grown in all warm climate gardens.

Chaya (Cnidoscolus chayamansa) is native from the southern tip of Texas, United States of America, down to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, where it grows in seasonal climates which may have long dry winters and hot wet summers.

In the wild the leaves of this plant are covered in stinging hairs like stinging nettles. It is also very poisonous. Not the kind of plant you would want in the vegetable garden.

From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty
Another cultivar of Chaya, this with attractive divided leaves.
Chaya produces clusters of white flowers over summer.
Chaya leaves require cooking for at least 3 minutes before eating to remove toxins.
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ONIONS Allium cepa

Claire Bickle





Onions can be a tricky crop to grow in subtropical climate zones and near impossible in tropical zones. This is due to their love of a long cold winter with the warming of spring being the trigger for onion formation. It’s a day length thing.

The key to success is to select cultivars that are best suited to warmer areas and get your plants in as early as possible in autumn. While warm climate gardeners may prefer to grow onions, it is easier to grow some of their relatives such as bunching or welsh onions or true (bulbing) shallots and avoid the frustration of onion crop failure due to a warm winter an early hot spring, or the early onset of the wet season.

Claire looks also at:

  • What is day length?
  • History
  • Culture
  • Pests and diseases
  • Onions and her

A recipe for Spring Onion Pesto is also provided and available here.

From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty
Spring Onion Pesto.
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POMEGRANATES – the ‘grain apple’

Barbara Beerling


Botanists have classified the Pomegranate in its own family, the Punicaceae. The genus Punica has only two species, Punica granatum, the pomegranate and Punica protopunica, the Socotran Pomegranate.

The plant occurs, both cultivated and naturalised over the whole of the Mediterranean region and as far east as India. They can be a little temperamental to grow in humid subtropical and tropical climates, but worth the effort.

Topics covered are:

  • The fruit
  • The plant
  • Cultivation
  • Pruning
  • Propagation
  • Cultivars
  • Culinary Uses
From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty
Inside the pomegranate.
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Atherton Almond Athertonia diversifolia.

By the Queensland Bushfood Association
Graeme White


In addition to the Macadamia Nut (Macadamia integrifolia) and the Bunya Nut (Araucaria bidwillii), there is a number of other Australian native bushfood plants that have edible nuts or kernels.

One that is readily identified, is also a member of the Proteaceae and has a flavour second only to the macadamia, is the Atherton Almond (Athertonia diversifolia), also known as the Atherton Oak.

The Atherton Almond is a small to medium sized bushy tree with a spreading habit. In the rainforest it can reach 30m but when grown in the open, would probably grow 10-12m tall.

From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty
Atherton Almond.
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