2 spicy natives to add to your edible garden

Add native New Zealand plants to your garden and reap the rewards. 

1. Kawakawa

Other names: Piper excelsum

About: small tree growing to 5m, but can be pruned to keep it shrub-height

Edible parts: small leaves (peppery-basil taste), fruit (pawpaw-ish when raw, peppery when roasted)


• remove stems and thick veins in leaves, then chop finely and add to homemade mayonnaise (source: chef Peter Gordon);
• dry leaves and use for tea, and as a spice in sweet and savoury dishes;
• eat berries fresh (spit out the peppery seeds), or roast to create peppercorns to use as a ground spice, or to infuse in alcohol (source: The Meaning
of Trees, Robert Vennell).

Related reading: 3 ways to use kawakawa

2. Horopito

Photo: Kristina Jensen

Other names: Pseudowintera colorata, mountain horopito, pepper tree

About: shrub 1-2.5m, with yellow-green-red leaves

Edible part: leaves (hot peppery-citrus flavour)


• dry leaves and grind to use as a seasoning as you would black pepper or chilli, as a rub for meat, to make tea, infuse in oil, alcohol, or beer, add
to condiments such as aioli, mustard, or hummus (source: The Meaning of Trees, Robert Vennell).
• dry leaves and add to salt crystals in a grinder to season cooked food (source: chef Peter Gordon).

Related reading: Nicola Kawana’s Tomato and Horopito Chutney

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NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.
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