ASIAN HERBS Perilla frutescens

Paul Plant

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This popular Asian herb is native to China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. With the current interest in cooking and Asian cuisine, this herb is becoming more widely used. Luckily it thrives in our warm climate gardens.

In many regards this plant looks a lot like Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum), which interestingly leads to the point that Perilla was once botanically named Ocimum crispum and Ocimum frutescens – each of which have now been renamed Perilla frutescens var. crispa and P. frutescens var. frutescens respectively. Different varieties of this plant exhibit different physical characteristics and are known by different common names in their various countries of origin.

The article touches upon:

  • Cultivation
  • Uses
  • Medicinal
From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty One
This delicious herb also makes a decorative specimen when mass planted in the garden.
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Permaculture – an organic philosophy

The word permaculture was coined in the mid 70s to inspire ‘permanent agriculture’ as a sustainable form of farming. Early work in 1929 by Joseph Smith (author of Tree Crops: a Permanent Agriculture), Toyohiko Kagawa (1930s) in Japan and Percival Yeomans (1970s) in Australia all lead the way in creating concepts for sustainable agriculture, forest farming and natural farming philosophy. In essence, patterns in nature were observed and adapted for the purpose of improving productivity.

A gardener interested in organic principles has many philosophies available to them. Permaculture is one philosophy that can be adopted to achieve an organic outcome. It is often seen as a strict set of principles, zones and sectors – but like all things in life, a gardener needs only adopt those ideas that are relevant to themselves.

From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty One
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Sweet Leaf – Sauropus androgynus
Arno King




Sweetleaf (Sauropus androgynus) is one of my favourite vegetables and a vegetable that most people like when they try it for the first time. An attractive shrub, it produces soft delicate leaflets that have a nutty pea-like flavour.

Thought to be originally from Borneo, although some references imply it is native to China, India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Philippines, this plant is now widely grown in tropical and subtropical Asia and increasingly around the world. It is known by many other names, including katuk (Indonesia), cekur manis, pucuk manis (Malaysia), sayur manis (Singapore), pak waan (Thailand), rau ngot (Vietnam), mani cai, fan shu choy (China) and surasarabi and Malay cheera (southern India). It is likely the most popular leaf vegetable in South East Asia.

Arno looks also at:

  • Kitchen Uses
  • Culture
  • Propagation
From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty One
Sweet Leaf.
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Peas and Snow peas

Claire Bickle



Peas and Snow Peas are generally annual climbing plants which produce delicate white, pink or purple pea shaped flowers, followed by pods containing edible seeds, the pea. The pods of Snow Peas, and some other types of peas such as ‘Sugarsnap’, are edible and require no shelling. All parts of the pea and Snow Pea plant are edible, even the young growing shoots and flowers, which can make an attractive addition to salads and sandwiches.

Topics covered are:

  • History
  • Cultivation
  • Types
  • Pests and diseases

A recipe for Hummus Green Pea Dip is also provided and available here.

From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty One
Hummus Green Pea Dip
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Mango – The King of Fruit.

Barbara Beerling



The Mango (Mangifera indica in the family Anacardiaceae) is thought to have originated in the Indian-Burmese border region and has been cultivated in India for more than 4000 years. A substantial and important tree crop, it is widely grown in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world from India, South East Asia, the Americas, Florida and the Middle East.

Many of the trading ships stopping at Australian ports in the 1800s left mango seeds behind. These found their way on to farms and stations in northern Australia – the beginnings of the mango industry in this country.
It is reported that the fresh fruit of mangoes is consumed in larger quantities than any other fruit.

Botanically a drupe, the mango can vary considerably in size, shape, colour, flavour and fibre content according to cultivar.

The western and Australian palate prefers the sweetness of the fully ripe fruit, whereas many Asian palates also enjoy the sour crunchiness of the green mango.

Topics covered are:

  • Climatic and Soil Requirements
  • Pruning
  • Pests and Diseases
  • Propagation
  • Cultivars
  • When to Pick a Mango
  • Culinary Uses
From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty One
‘Nam Doc Mai’
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Emu Foot – Cullen tenax.

By the Queensland Bushfood Association
John King



The below item complements this article read in the current issue:

To read read more about native legumes as a grain crop in Australia:

Emu Foot


This unusual common name is the result of the pattern created by the spread out leaves. It is also known as Emu Grass, Native Lucerne, Tough Scurfpea, Tough Psoralea and Wild Lucerne. It belongs to the legume group
of plants.

There are two distinctly different forms of this plant, a fine-leaf and a broad-leaf version. Cullen tenax is a perennial groundcover that can form a clump 0.8-1.5m in diameter. It has soft divided leaflets that spread like the fingers of a hand or like the toes on an emu’s foot, on a stiff, erect, fine stalk. The wispy soft stem trails over the ground or tumbles over walls and rocks or pots.

A recipe for Cullen tenax seed and sour cream cake is also provided and available here.

From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty One
Close up of Emu Foot leaf.
Checkered Swallowtail butterfly, underside.
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