Mountain Pepperberry, Tasmannia lanceolata. A pepper bush native to the rainforests of Tasmania and southeastern Australia. High in antioxidants and vitamin C, with antifungal and antimicrobial properties, and in great demand by gourmet foodies, both the berries and the leaves can be dried and used as a pepper substitute, and a zingy addition to curries, game, cheese and even hot chocolate. In colonial times it was used like echinacea - to ward off winter colds and flu. It can be infused in vodka to make a useful, ahem, medicine. Super useful edible garden plant in a cool climate (you might find it in the UK advertised as Cornwall pepper leaf).
So where, you might ask, is the mystery? Is there a body? Has Miss Marple been called in? Well, here is the thing. To get berries you need a male and female plant, like kiwi fruit or hazelnuts. I bought a plant several years ago at some market, not realising the need for two. It grew, looked pretty, but no berries. By then I realised I needed another one, but couldn't work out which one I had, so typically did nothing for another couple of years. Then last year, it mysteriously produced berries. And this year, the same. With no partner. A sensible friend suggested a neighbour must have one. But no. No other pepper plants anywhere to be seen along the street, which is not surprising as it is hardly a common garden plant.
I have a horticultural wonder in my garden. And I will never have to buy pepper again.
Tired, but determinedly cheerful mother of four. One grown up son (The Boy), one grown up daughter (The Girl), two girls at home, Rosy (17) and Posy (12). Trying to buy a little less, make a little more, live a little lighter, not mess up the children too much..