Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

EAT THE WEEDS

While not a weed as such this is a commonly grown decorative plant in Brisbane - who would have thought it was edible!

Cordyline fruticosa: Food, Foliage, Booze

Simply called Ti (tee) Cordyline fruticosa spent most of its history with humans as a food, a source of alcohol, or a medicine. Now its foliage is in demand with many showy cultivars.  Ti is probably native to southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea. It was carried throughout much of the Pacific by Polynesians who used the starchy rhizomes for food. An outdoor ornamental in warmer areas of the Earth today Ti is found naturalized in eastern Australia and many of the larger tropical Pacific islands including the Hawaii.  It’s a common potted plant in cooler climates. The point is you should be able to find it nearly everywhere, often with other people taking care of it for you. And if you are so inclined you can even make a Hula skirt out of it.

Boiled roots taste like molasses and were used to make a beer that was reported to cure scurvy (but modern references to its nutrition are scarce.)  Some say the Hawaiians learned to distill Ti beer into a stronger brew from convicts in Botany Bay, Australia. Young leaves are used as a potherb. Older leaves are used to wrap food, make clothes, rain capes and for thatch. Ti leaves are to wrap foods for grilling, steaming or baking. Dried leaves should be soaked to soften before using.

One word of caution. Don’t confuse the Ti with the Dracaena. Ti leaves have a petiole (stem) arching out from the trunk or branch. Dracaena leaves clasp the trunk or branch.  Dracaena will also burn your mouth and hands.

Two species are regularly reported as food sources. C. fruticosa and C. australis. Cordyline (kor-dih-LYE-nee) means club-like, referring to the look of the roots. Fruticosa (froo-tee-KHO-sah) means fruit.  Australis (oss-TRAY-liss) means southern.

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Replies to This Discussion

Whoulda thunk? ;-) Good info, thanks Lissa.

Quite interesting about the Ti leaves and roots.  They are very ornamental. 

Some islanders like to grow them outside the 4 sides of their house to repel bad spirits.  The Hawaiians like to use the leaves when cooking Lau Lau, they wrap food in Taro leaf (Colocasia esculens) and then in outer cover of Ti leaf. Cook or steam for few hours, then unwrap outer Ti leaves and toss out, they consider them not edible. 

I have the C. australis variety growing and hope to see what the fruit berries will taste like. It is flowering now.

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GrowVetiver

Vetiver grass helps to stabilise soil and protects it against erosion.  It can protect against pests and weeds. Vetiver is also used as animal feed. (Wiki.)

GrowVetiver is a plant nursery run by Dave & Keir Riley that harvests and grows Vetiver grass for local community applications and use. It is based in Beachmere, just north of Brisbane, Australia.


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