Midgen Berry

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Jul 102017
 

Austromyrtus dulcis

This low growing, spreading shrub is an ornamental and hardy plant that is useful as tall ground cover or small shrub. After a lovely show of creamy blossoms many small berries appear on the shrub, looking like tiny speckled eggs. The berries are sweet with a eucalyptus after taste that may be quite bitter at times.

In the wild, this small to medium shrub grows along the east coast of Australia from Byron Bay in NSW to Fraser Island in QLD. Typically it is found growing on sandy soils in heath or open forest, occasionally venturing to the rainforest edge.

Cultivation
In Melbourne, in areas that experience frost, some shelter under trees is preferable. When planted in full sun, the plant becomes a dense spreading shrub, while in shady areas it will be a fairly open ground cover. It is a good choice for sandy coastal situations although it must be protected from salty winds.

Incorporate lots of organic matter into the soil when you plant as this will help with water retention while at the same time improving drainage. Make sure the plant gets plenty of water especially during hot weather when it will be fruiting. Pruning is only necessary if you intend to keep the shrub as a low hedge.

Uses in the Kitchen
To my palette, the berries are sweet but they are tinged with a bitter after taste. Many have written about the berries being the best tasting native fruit. These sources are writing about berries taken in their natural habitat making me wonder if the cooler conditions in Melbourne make the berries taste different to those in QLD?

The berries are usually eaten raw; they could be added to a fruit salad, a pie or if you had lots, made into jam.