Light, silvery spicy scent
These lovely trees represent possibly the most popular scents in Australia at the moment. The leaves have rich flavour/scents which are increasingly popular for culinary and cosmetic purposes.
They are generally found in sub-tropical rainforest areas in northern NSW and southern QLD, but are adaptable to most domestic growing with a little care.
Also: Grey myrtle
Latin name: Backhousia myrtifolia
- Leaves have a sharp spicy scent, reminiscent of cinnamon, with a cardamom/nutmeg overtone.
- It can be substituted for cinnamon in dishes but, like the other myrtles, it’s more about scent than flavour.
- Add to sweet and savoury dishes for the warm scent; wonderful to enhance Middle Eastern and Indian flavours.
- Try the leaves as a chai-like tea.
- Are tropical or sub-tropical rainforest plants and can grow quite large (over 5m in height) in tropical conditions.
- They start off in the understory, so require shelter from extreme weather (wind, heat, direct harsh sun) for their first few years.
- Can be frost-tolerant once it gets large enough.
- Make an excellent container plant; move to the most sheltered positions during the year until well-established.
- Requires regular watering
- Plantations do well as far south as the NSW South Coast region – our myrtles come from a plantation near Narooma.
Harvesting and storage
- Use both whole and ground leaves, both fresh and dried.
- Myrtle leaves dry very quickly in a cool, well-aired location. Keep out of direct sun or heat for the best result.
- If harvesting your own plant, try keeping leaves on pruned branches and placing in a vase with no water. Ensure good airflow around the stems and leaves to prevent mould.
- The result looks wonderful, and will give out a subtle scent over the next week or so as it gently dries.
- Leaves can also be dried at low heat in a dehydrator.
- Leaves can then be easily stripped off the stems and placed in an airtight container for storage.
- Whole leaves will keep their savour for a good 12 months, if need be
- Grind by hand or in a high-powered blender and store in an airtight container.
- Ground leaves will retain the best scent for about three months.