Midyim berry, Austromyrtus dulcis, is a tasty and rewarding native fruiting plant that is also super easy for the home gardener to tackle. More than 20 years ago, I used these plants in landscaping projects under shady deciduous trees where other plants wouldn’t grow, selecting them for their coppery pink new growth, a feature of Australian rainforest plants. Later I discovered that the fruits were also tasty and interesting! The fruits are light mauve with tiny spots, and taste somewhat like blueberries with a hint of ginger, nutmeg and a touch of eucalyptus.
How and where to plant
Observing a plant in nature always gives us clues to what plants need in our gardens, and I’ve delighted in finding these lovely little shrubs growing in dappled shade just above the high tide line in southern Queensland. They also occur in coastal regions of NSW. Although they grow naturally in sand, my midyim berry patch has been thriving in my improved clay in the northern suburbs of Melbourne for many years, showing how adaptable they are. I have found they appreciate regular watering. They fruit best if watered well.
Evergreen arching shrubs, that vary depending upon your garden from 40 cm to a metre high, these plants can be easily pruned into a hedge, and regular pruning also encourages better fruit production. If you don’t prune your plants, the arching habit of the branches can take them to ground level where if conditions are right they will layer and take root in the soil. In time this can form a thicket, or you may decide to separate the two plants and give one to a friend. Although midyim berries don’t need cross-pollination to fruit, they will fruit better if they are grown in a group. In my Melbourne garden, the small white flowers appear in early summer and fruits ripen in autumn and are able to be harvested over a long period of time.
Perfect for pots
Perfect in pots or in the ground in a sheltered somewhat shaded position, the arching habit of midyim berries means they look fabulous in hanging baskets, as long as you choose a sheltered position to avoid plants drying out too easily. Midyim berry plants are also a fantastic choice for school gardens, as they are hardy and somewhat forgiving; the fruits are produced on quite young plants; the taste is palatable for children and the fruit size is reasonable which makes foraging for them fun and rewarding.
By: Karen Sutherland
First published: February 2021