Unlocking the power of natives

There is an abundance of underutilised ingredients right here in our native environment. Australia’s native produce has sustained Indigenous people for thousands of years and there is a growing focus on how we can grow use these native greens in our day-to-day lives. As they are naturally adapted to our climate, growing native edibles are low maintenance and have incredible medicinal properties.

Here are 3 uniquely Australian greens that have been making an increasing appearance on menus across Australia—can you recognise any of these?

Backhousia citriodora, Myrtaceae Family

A native Australian shrub naturally grown in the wetter coastal areas of northern NSW and southern Queensland. The Lemon Myrtle leaf is a versatile and refreshing herb with a high oil content. It will grow in a wide variety of conditions but doesn’t like extreme heat, however it will take full sun given it has plenty of water and deep soil.

Medicinal: Can be consumed in oil form to help with indigestion
Taste: Fresh fragrance of creamy lemon and lime
Cooking: Throw it into a sauce for the last 10 to 15 minutes for a great lemon, zesty flavour. Great for dips, sauces, salads and curries. Can be used as a replacement for Kaffir Lime.

Atriplex nummularia, Chenopodiaceae Family

A long living native Australian plant growing strongly after periods of summer rain. Saltbush is a large leafed vegetable with a natural range of mineral salts, antioxidants, calcium and protein. This shrub is quite unique because it can be planted near rivers to draw salt out of the soil, so that other plants can be re-introduced once the salinity has been removed.

Medicinal: The leaves can be applied topically as a medicine for cuts and stings
Taste: Just like spinach, but saltier!
Cooking: Great with salads or thrown into a stir fry. Dried saltbush flakes are great as an addition to breads, grills and pastas.

Mentha Australis, Lamiateae Family

The Australian native herb is found across South Eastern Australia in moist forests around waterways. River Mint is summer growing, thriving along the riverbanks after flood, particularly in the Murray Darling Basin waterways.

Medicinal: Crushed leaves can be sniffed to relieve headaches, as well as steeped in tea to to bring down cold and flu symptoms
Taste: Similar taste and aroma to spearmint with an earthy aftertone
Cooking: Great for meat dishes, sauces, chutneys and drink infusions

Serena Lee