The mushroom plant is a low maintenance bushy plant with oval shaped leaves that have a mild mushroom flavour and makes a great addition to the edible garden.
Native to Papua New Guinea, the mushroom plant (Rungia klossii) is also known as Acanth Spinach, Shombay, Moku, Tani, Aimbe and Kenkaba. The plant grows to about 60cm tall with thick, glossy, oval shaped dark green leaves all year round and blue flowers in spring.
How to Grow Mushroom Plant
The mushroom plant can be grown from seed or by propagation. I purchased a small plant from a garden centre and have been propagating it and dividing it successfully ever since.
It favours soil rich in compost in a warm position and sheltered with part shade. While it can tolerate periods of dryness, regular watering ensures prolific growth. It can still grow in full sun if watered well. Much like the betel leaf plant, from my experience in Sydney’s temperate climate, growing it in part shade with regular watering resulted in producing larger leaves.
The best time to propagate is in spring as during winter, it goes dormant. To propagate, take a cutting about 15cm long. Remove the leaves from the bottom half of the stem and bury the cutting in soil halfway up its length. When propagating in a container, four to five stems can be planted close together for a bushier plant. Cuttings can also be rooted in water then transplanted.
Mushroom Plant Care
The mushroom plant thrives in moist soil that is not waterlogged. It’s relatively pest and disease free though some of the leaves may change colour turning a shade of pink and yellow then dropping off. Some leaves form yellow lines along the veins as a response to too much sun. During spring, top up with compost to stimulate more growth. An occasional liquid fertiliser in the warmer months is all the plant needs.
Harvesting & Seed Saving
Harvest the leaves as you need by cutting them off the stem. The plant flowers in spring and you can collect the seeds. I have not attempted to grow it from seed as propagation is so easy with a high success rate.
Tips for Growing Mushroom Plant
- The plant is best grown by propagation or division. Simply buy a small plant and you can grow and divide.
- Grow it in part shade and water well if you want larger leaves.
- Pick the leaves regularly in order to keep the plant productive and maintain its bushy aspect.
Culinary Uses of Mushroom Plant
The leaves and stems can be eaten raw in salads and sandwiches or cooked in stir-fries, quiches, omelettes and soups. You can also use it as a garnish. To make the most of its flavour, it’s best to add it to cooking at the last minute.
Mushroom Plant in Drinks
With its distinctive flavour, the leaves can be infused in simple syrup to be used in drinks and cocktails, as a garnish or simply added to a green smoothie.