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fruit, foliage

Natural populations

Austromyrtus dulcis occurs commonly from Fraser Island, Queensland south into northern NSW. It grows in sandy soils in heath and dry open forests and occasionally on the margins of coastal rainforests [43, 48]. Its geographic range was in a narrow and continuous coastal band in the subtropics, now fragmented by urbanisation.

Flowering and seeds

It flowers and fruits starting in spring and extending into autumn. Austromyrtus dulcis is an easy species to propagate, from seed or from cuttings. Fresh cleaned seed germinates in 3-4 weeks with no mechanical scarification of the seed necessary [48].

Cultivation and uses

In cultivation, A. dulcis is a favoured ground cover in native coastal gardens [48]. The fruits are edible, of a sweet lightly peppery taste and can be made into a jam [43, 48, 49]. In wild populations, the low spreading bushes provide habitat cover and a seasonal source of food for ground dwelling birds [91].

Key descriptors:
Climate parameters
Mean annual rainfall: 1250-1850 mm
Rainfall distribution pattern: summer
Mean annual temperature: 16-25 °C
Mean max. temperature of the hottest month: 27-29 °C
Mean min. temperature of the coldest month: 7-13 °C
Frosts (approx. no. per year): frost free or more or less frost free
Altitude: 0-280 metres
Tolerance of climate extremes
Fire: killed by damaging fire does not regenerate foliage
Wind: tolerates salt-laden coastal winds
Soil factors
Texture: loam, sandy loam, sandy clay loam or sand
Soil pH reaction: acidic (less than 6.5)
Soil depth: moderate to deep (30-100 cm or greater)
Drainage:  well-drained
Salinity: slightly to moderately saline
Tolerance of adverse soils
Extremes in texture: sand
Salinity: moderate (-8 dS m-1) (?)
Soil waterlogging tolerance: nil - sensitive to waterlogged soils
Biological traits under cultivation
Habit: evergreen groundcover or shrub less than 2 m tall
Longevity: short-lived less than 15 years
Growth rate: moderate
Root system: shallow and spreading
Erosion control potential: excellent for sandy sites
Shade tolerance: tolerates partial shade
Uses
Specialty products: fruits used in jams, sauces, confectionaries etc.
Traditional Aboriginal uses: seeds/fruits eaten
Potentially undesirable attributes
Fire sensitivity: killed by severe fires (seeder)

References

[43] National Herbarium of New South Wales (2008) PlantNET - Flora of New South Wales. (Online resource) http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/floraonline.htm (Accessed: February 2008).

[48] Food Standards Australia New Zealand (2008) Food Standards. (Online resource) http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/ (Accessed: February 2008)

[49] Slater AT (1998) RIRDC Short Report: Development of Baeckea behrii, other Baeckea and Scholtzia species as cut flowers for the export and local markets. RIRDC (Online Resource) http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/SB06032.htm (Accessed: December 2007)

[91] Australian Government (2008) Species profile and threats database. (Online resource) http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/sprat.pl (Accessed: January 2008)

Internet links

Australian Government Species profile and threats database: http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=923

Australian National Botanic Gardens – Growing Australian Plants: http://www.cpbr.gov.au/gnp/gnp12/austromyrtus-dulcis.html          

Food Standards: http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/monitoringandsurveillance/nuttab2006/onlineversionintroduction/onlineversion.cfm?&action=getFood&foodID= 15A10264

PlantNet NSW Flora Online – species description & distribution: http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Austromyrtus~dulcis

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