Olearia Ghost Town is an Australian native shrub with ‘ghostly’ edible leaves with a unique and pungent flavour. Here’s how to grow it, eat it and use it in drinks.
What is Olearia Ghost Town
Olearia Ghost Town (Olearia languinosa), also known as Woolly Daisy Bush is an evergreen and perennial Australian native shrub that grows to a height of 70cm and spreads 1m wide. The plant has a distinctive appearance with tiny grey-white ‘ghostly’ foliage with occasional white flowers in spring. The leaves are edible and have a unique and pungent flavour unlike anything I have tasted before (see below).
How to Grow Olearia Ghost Town
The easiest way to grow Olearia Ghost Town is from a seedling or a small plant. Place it in a position that gets full sun with well drained sandy soil. It tolerates periods of drought and coastal conditions which is ideal for my Sydney location.
I started growing mine from a small plant in a 25cm container with good drainage holes. The plant grew very quickly and spread out wide. Later, I transplanted it to a raised garden bed dedicated to Australian native edibles and it has been thriving ever since.
The native shrub doesn’t require much maintenance aside from the occasional watering after a long dry period. I don’t use liquid fertiliser but I often give my native plants a little seaweed drink every so often and a little prune to tidy up.
The taste of Olearia Ghost Town is ever so unique. I describe it as a super concentrated variant of thyme with a peppery and almost astringent or bitter note on the back palate. It’s delicious and a little goes a long way.
The native herb can be used as a rub on red meats or in a marinade. The leaves can be dehydrated, turned into powder and mixed with salt to use as seasoning. It goes well with a simple pasta dish with olive oil, garlic and good Parmesan cheese. Try it with baked potatoes, roast vegetables and winter stews or in a compound butter.
Olearia Ghost Town may be an acquired taste as it is relatively uncommon but lends itself to much experimentation. It can be dried, added to salt and used to rim a cocktail glass. It can be made into a tea and turned into a syrup. It can also be used to flavour drinking shrubs, in particular fruit shrubs.
One of my favourite ways to use it is in an oxymel, another type of drinking vinegar made with raw honey and raw apple cider vinegar. The oxymel can then be used in cocktails such as Thyme for Whisky.
If you’re looking for a low maintenance and drought-resistant Australian native herb that can double as a low hedge or an ornamental, give Olearia a go.
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