Food ForestsFood Plants - AnnualFood Plants - PerennialMedicinal Plants

Food from Perennial(ising) Plants in Temperate Climate Australia, for October 2012

This is the second monthly post for the research project about perennial plants, and perennialising annual plants, which provide food in temperate climate parts of Australia. The original article introducing this project, stating its aims, and providing participant instructions, can be found here. Growers are sending me information on a month-by-month basis, then this information is collated and published the following month. The first monthly post can be found here.

Grower #2

Grower # 2
Latitude 38.15°S
Broad climate information Mediterranean buffered by maritime influences. No frosts.
Brief description of garden/farm Courtyard, raised beds, mostly shaded in winter, as well as some planters that get winter sun.

Botanical name Lactuca sativa
Common name(s) Sword Leaf lettuce, Pointed Leaf Lettuce, Taiwan Sword Leaf, Orient Sword Leaf, Yu Mai Tsai
Parts used for food Leaves
How used Raw, cooked

Botanical name Hypochaeris radicata
Common name(s) Flatweed
Parts used for food Leaves
How used Raw in green smoothies
Notes Self-sown

Botanical name Petroselinum crispum
Common name(s) Parsley, Curly-leafed Parsley
Parts used for food Leaves
How used Raw, cooked
Notes Biennial. This plant was razed to the ground by possums, then recovered!

Botanical name Plantago lanceolata
Common name(s) Plantain
Parts used for food Leaves
How used Raw in green smoothies. Cooked.
Notes Self-sown, foraged locally.

Botanical name Sonchus oleraceus
Common name(s) Sow Thistle
Parts used for food Leaves
How used Raw in green smoothies.
Notes Self-sown, foraged locally.

Botanical name Stellaria media
Common name(s) Chickweed
Parts used for food Leaves, stems, flowers
How used Raw in salads or green smoothies
Notes Self-sown, foraged locally.

Grower #2 has also obtained food in October from Beta vulgaris var. cicla leaves, Fragaria spp. using tender young leaves as well as fruit, Lactuca sativa leaves, Passiflora edulis fruit plus tender young tops of suckers, Santolina rosmarinifolia leaves, and Symphytum officinale leaves (all profiled last month).

Grower #3

Grower # 3
Latitude 32°
Broad climate information Mediterranean climate, winters mild, rarely have frosts, summers hot, dry and windy. Mean annual rainfall about 870mm, most of it falling between May – Sept. Can go many weeks without rain in the summer months.
Brief description of garden/farm Established suburban garden undergoing conversion to food production. 720 sq m block with as much garden as I can squeeze in around house, studio and driveway (and I have my eyes on that). Front garden south facing, exposed to strong winds (7km from coast), competing with two huge street trees (Queensland box and unknown eucalypt). Back garden north facing, more sheltered, partially shaded by 2 coolabahs and jacaranda, established citrus trees, chook pen. Soil type – water repellant sand, greatly improved by addition of bentonite clay and constant addition of compost and mulch. Watered twice weekly from bore during summer months, plus hand watering as needed.

Botanical name Aethionema cordifolium
Common name(s) Lebanese Cress
Parts used for food Leaves
How used Salad, soup
Notes Growing in pond water and at water’s edge.
Not Apium nodiflorum — which is also sometimes labelled Lebanese Cress.

Botanical name Beta vulgaris var. cicla
Common name(s) Perpetual Spinach, Mediterranean Spinach
Parts used for food Leaves
How used Raw, steamed, stir fry
Notes Self-seeding

Botanical name Brassica chinensis
Common name(s) Bok Choy
Parts used for food Leaves, stems
How used Steamed, stir fry
Notes Self-seeding annual

Botanical name Centella asiatica, Hydrocotyle asiatica
Common name(s) Gotu kola
Parts used for food Leaves
How used Raw in salads, cooked in soups, curries
Notes Growing at pond edge, damp ground

Botanical name Fragaria x ananassa
Common name(s) Strawberry
Parts used for food Berries
How used Raw, dried, jam
Notes I grow these in pots (about 40 plants), otherwise the slaters get them.

Botanical name Ipomoea batatas
Common name(s) Sweet Potato
Parts used for food Tuberous roots
How used Roasted, steamed, patties, soups
Notes Apparently the leaves are also edible, but I haven’t tried them.

Botanical name Lactuca sativa
Common name(s) Lettuce
Parts used for food Leaves
How used Salad
Notes Self-seeding annual

Botanical name Morus spp.
Common name(s) Mulberry
Parts used for food Berries
How used Fresh, jam
Notes Harvest from local trees – street verge and cycle path

Botanical name Petroselinum neapolitanum
Common name(s) Italian Parsley or Flat Leaf Parsley
Parts used for food Leaf
How used Culinary herb
Notes Self-seeding biennial

Botanical name Physalis peruviana
Common name(s) Cape Gooseberry
Parts used for food Berries
How used Raw, dried, jams
Notes Plants are productive for 2 or 3 years if cut back, prolific self-seeders, prone to attack by mites in spring.

Botanical name Rheum x cultorum
Common name(s) Rhubarb
Parts used for food Stems
How used Sweetened and used in cooking — stewed, crumble, muffins, etc.

Botanical name Tetragonia tetragonoides
Common name(s) Warrigal Greens
Parts used for food Young leaves
How used Steamed, like spinach
Notes Becomes bitter when heat stressed. Self-seeding.

Botanical name Tropaeolum majus
Common name(s) Nasturtium
Parts used for food Leaves, flowers, soft green seed
How used Salads. Seeds pickled like capers.

Botanical name Vaccinium spp.
Common name(s) Blueberry
Parts used for food Berries
How used Fresh, frozen
Notes Grown in pots


Grower #4

Grower # 4 — Yvonne, Melbourne
Latitude 37°
Broad climate information Mediterranean temperate
Brief description of garden/farm Inner city urban garden full of edible plants – the majority perennial – with more than 20 fruit trees,
40 herbs, a constantly updated array of berries (trees, shrubs and vines) and many other edible goodies.

Botanical name Geranium robertianum
Common name(s) Herb Robert
Parts used for food Leaves
How used Raw
Notes Self-seeding annual that is now growing in between the bricks of the paved areas.

Botanical name Rumex cristatus
Common name(s) Greek Dock
Parts used for food Leaves
How used Raw, cooked



Thank you so much to the growers who have contributed so far, both last month and this! We now have approximately forty plants mentioned (including some foraged plants), with more to come :)

If anyone else feels they would like to participate, you can email me for the proformas on:

  • 5555susana (at) gmail (dot) com

As I said in the introductory article, even if you have obtained food from one perennial(ised) food plant, then that can be useful to someone out there, so don’t hold back if you’ve been feeling that one or a few plants are insignificant!

And once again, if anyone wishes to profile a particular plant in more detail, please feel free, we’d love you to. Email:

  • editor (at)


  1. These are an incredibly useful series of articles that I, for one, am very VERY happy to be reading and saving. Thank you SO much for this informative series and please keep them coming. Cheers from the bottom of my permaculture penniless student hippy heart to each and every single one of you contributors making our Northern Tasmanian 4 acres of evolving permaculture a much better place :)

  2. Wow, this was very helpful! Thank you for the great pictures. I have seen several of these growing wild in my yard and wondered if they were edible. This gives me the encouragement to check into it farther. This is a great series. Hopefully, I will have something to contribute soon. Unfortunately, we are wanderers right now. I am really curious how to grow veg as nomads. . . . Anyway, keep up the good work! I really appreciate the quality.

  3. Hi Susan. This is a really useful article series and has helped me identify some more food plants growing about the place. It is also really interesting seeing the difference that latitude makes in relation to harvesting and stage of growth of the various plants. PS: Herb Robert is an incredibly valuable medicinal herb. Chris

  4. Interesting… We have loads of Dock and Herb Robert growing near us, but I must admit I never thought of adding them to a salad. In the database Herb Robert is listed as having no known edible uses, while the oxalic acid in dock leaves is noted as a hazard…

  5. Sweet Potatoes have edible leaves which are very delicious and nutritionally richer than the tubers.
    I was looking for lebanese cress. Growing like a monster in my garden.
    Much Love

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