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Australian Bushfood and Native Medicine Forum • View topic - do we have a native pepper?

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do we have a native pepper?

Identifying, growing and propagating edible Aussie plants

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do we have a native pepper?

Postby lukis » Sun Mar 12, 2006 4:55 pm

hey all,
iam new to the forum jsut wanna say HEY and ask a question or 2
i was just wondering if we have any kinds of native pepper plants or something alike with then pper taste if so could someone give me an idea on were i might b able to obtian the seeds or a small cuttings??

cheers luke
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Postby Bluetongue » Sun Mar 12, 2006 5:28 pm

Hi Lukis, welcome to the forum! :)

Australia's got several native peppers. They all have different common names, so I tend to use Latin names. It prevents confusion.

I think all the native peppers are in the Tasmannia family. For instance, in Victoria we have Mountain Pepper - Tasmannia lanceolata. It has berries on the female plants that can be used in pepper grinders. The leaves can be used in cooking, kind of like a bay leaf, giving the food a peppery flavour - take the leaf out before serving the food, because it's not nice to chew :)

I'm pretty sure Sydney has a native pepper - someone else may be able to tell you. Not sure about SE Qld... someone else will have to tell you your local suppliers, too.
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Postby eataust » Sun Mar 12, 2006 6:03 pm

We have _seriously_ cool native peppers - assuming that by peppers, you mean "hot spicy leaves and berries", not "capsicum-like" or "bell peppers" or even "chillis". We don't have anything like the latter that I'm aware of.

"Dorrigo pepper" (Tasmannia stipitata) and "Mountain pepper" (Tasmannia lanceolata) are the two main plant products you'll find sold; generally the leaves and berries in dried, often powdered format. Sometimes you can get the berries in a fresh frozen form. They make an _excellent_ pepper sauce, or an even better pepper-plum sauce with Illawarra and/or Davidson plums.

They're fairly readily available through nurseries. They WOULD be available through Guruna Nursery but I think I just bought most of his :)

Note that unusually for a lot of the commercially-produced bushfoods, they're actually cool-climate plants. There's another Tasmannia species (T. xerophilia) which is known as Alpine pepperbush - I'd like to try it, too.

They are a true peppery flavour, but much hotter than true pepper (Piper nigrum), so need to be used a little more sparingly. The leaves are milder than the berries, and add a lovely herby peppery flavour to whatever you put them in - I use them instead of black pepper these days, mostly because I'm not that fond of real pepper, but I love this flavour.

I've got some photos of the plants up at http://www.sapientae.net.au/ea/photos/M ... %2006.html - down the bottom of the page.
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Postby Bluetongue » Sun Mar 12, 2006 6:11 pm

I'd also recommend that you don't harvest seed or cuttings from the wild without a permit. Permit systems aren't perfect, but do help prevent the willy nilly destruction of wild populations. (Could be the subject of a whole 'nother thread!)
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Postby Rimbaud » Sun Mar 12, 2006 7:00 pm

The seeds of Tassie mountain pepper, and of some other native shrubs in that genus, are SERIOUSLY hot! A single fresh seed is enough to have you begging for mercy ;) Actually not THAT hot, but a single seed is hot enough to really make you take notice....

and (he writes mysteriously) there is another... another tasmannia... it may even be hotter... ;) At Darcy's suggestion, a direct comparison between regular t. lanceolata and t.glaucifolia left me in no doubt as to which is hotter :twisted:
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Postby Rimbaud » Sun Mar 12, 2006 7:08 pm

eataust wrote:There's another Tasmannia species (T. xerophilia) which is known as Alpine pepperbush - I'd like to try it, too.


you shoulda told me - i could have sold ya a couple! The only tasmannia i don't have is t.membranea (will swap/pay handsomely if someone has it!!!!)

for lanceolata, i would recommend trying your local native nursery - t.lanceolata is pretty common as tubestock, not too exxie either
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Postby lukis » Sun Mar 12, 2006 7:12 pm

Thankz heaps guys
do any of yous have any kinds of pepper seeds or cuttings you wish to sell?? :D
ive had a quick look aorud out some of the online seed placves but i dont seem to see any of the kinds of pepper plants there :(

cheers
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Postby eataust » Sun Mar 12, 2006 7:15 pm

OK, so just HOW many Australian pepperbushes are there?

T. lanceoloata - Mountain pepperbush.
T. stipitata - Dorrigo pepper
T. insipida - Wild Lime calls THIS Dorrigo pepper, which explains why I've been confused for a while.
T. xerophilia - Alpine or snow pepper. Wild Lime says is has leaves and berries hotter than the two more common ones.
T. purpurescens - Broad leaf pepperbush.
T. glaucifolia - Fragrant Pepperbush
T. membranea – Pepper Tree

Any others??

(Note: I found a couple of extras referenced in a Wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasmannia - NZ and PNG have Tasmannia as well. Actually it's got some incorrect information and as soon as I work out a polite way to update it, I will).

Note, too, that the CSIRO puts out The Australian Journal of Botany, which has at least two articles on Tasmannia spp.
Last edited by eataust on Sun Mar 12, 2006 7:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Rimbaud » Sun Mar 12, 2006 7:19 pm

t.membranea!! t.membranea!!!!

this occurs in nth qld
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Postby eataust » Sun Mar 12, 2006 7:22 pm

Dammit, you beat me to it!! I just found that in the Wikipedia article. I've added it to my list above.
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Postby Rimbaud » Sun Mar 12, 2006 7:25 pm

8)
t.membranea is actually the first post on this forum in the trade section... i've been dreaming about it for many months...
http://guruna.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=11
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Postby lukis » Sun Mar 12, 2006 7:43 pm

:P so many lol i just want a pepper plant that i can use the leaves in cooking :D
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Postby eataust » Sun Mar 12, 2006 7:56 pm

I've updated that Wikipedia reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasmannia

Lukis, go for Tasmannia lanceolata or stipitata, as they'll be the most readily available. One of the references I just read advises, however, that you need to wait until the tree is relatively mature before actually using the leaves. I don't actually how big/old it needs to be before it counts as "mature" - Rimbaud, how old is the Dorrigo pepper you sold me? (A photo is here.)

edit: hey, Rimbaud, this isn't you, is it??

edit2: An excellent page on native peppers: http://www.kfunigraz.ac.at/~katzer/engl/Tasm_lan.html
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Postby Rimbaud » Mon Mar 13, 2006 9:45 am

eataust wrote:edit: hey, Rimbaud, this isn't you, is it??


Nope. But I found this page a while ago and tried contacting the first enquirier to see if he'd ben successful... no reply.

Alistair (the last replier) is a customer of mine :) We discussed some plans regarding t.glaucifolia and it would be good to hear what he's up to at the moment... (Alistair, if you're there..?)
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Postby Bluetongue » Wed Mar 29, 2006 3:38 pm

Just looked up Tasmannia in the Native Plants of the Sydney Region, by Margaret Baker et al. Found 'Pepper Bush' - Tasmannia insipida.
I know it was mentioned earlier...

The book says that the seeds are way hot but the fruit is 'whitish' and insipid. Has anyone tried it? It also described the flowers as 'unisexual or bisexual' :) Will I ever understand these terms without consulting a botanical dictionary?

Lukis, did you manage to get yourself a plant?
Last edited by Bluetongue on Wed Mar 29, 2006 3:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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