If you’re looking for a unique and nutritious plant to add to your garden, look no further than the Mushroom Plant (Rungia klossii). Native to Papua New Guinea, this low-growing perennial offers not only ornamental value but also a delicious mushroom-like flavor in its leaves. In this blog post, we’ll explore the various uses, nutritional benefits, growing details, and culinary possibilities of the Mushroom Plant, also known as Acanth Spinach, Shombay, Moku, Tani, Aimbe, or Kenkaba.
The Mushroom Plant is a clumping plant that reaches a height of up to 1 meter. Its glossy, oval-shaped dark green leaves grow up to 8cm long and have a slightly crinkled appearance. Some leaves develop yellow stripes along the veins when exposed to sunlight. Periodically, small bright blue lip-like flowers, about 1cm long, add a touch of beauty to the plant.
Uses and Functions
- Ornamental Purpose: With its low height and attractive foliage, the Mushroom Plant can be used as garden edging or path borders. Its dense clumps create a visually appealing display.
- Nutritious Edible Layer: In permaculture systems, the Mushroom Plant acts as a ground cover that protects the soil. The leaves, which taste similar to mushrooms, can be harvested and used as a nutritious addition to your meals.
The Mushroom Plant is packed with essential nutrients, making it a valuable addition to your diet. Here are some key nutritional benefits of this plant:
- Chlorophyll and Plant Calcium: It is rich in chlorophyll and is one of the highest plant sources of calcium.
- Vitamins and Minerals: The Mushroom Plant is particularly abundant in Vitamin C, beta-carotene, and iron, along with traces of other minerals.
- Protein Content: Surprisingly, the leaves contain around 3% protein, making them higher in protein than actual mushrooms.
To grow the Mushroom Plant, follow these steps:
- Propagation: Take cuttings that are 15-20cm long and remove the leaves from the bottom half. Root the cuttings in a glass of water or directly in moist soil. Plant three to four stems per hole to create thicker clumps.
- Soil: The Mushroom Plant prefers a moderate to rich loam soil. Enrich the soil with compost to improve yields.
- Sunlight: It thrives in partial shade (0%-50% sun), which promotes the growth of lush, large leaves. Full sun exposure will result in smaller leaves.
- Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist, but avoid waterlogging.
Harvesting and Culinary Uses
To enjoy the unique mushroom flavor of the leaves, harvest them regularly. When harvesting, cut the stems to encourage branching and bushier growth. Here are some ways to incorporate the Mushroom Plant into your meals:
- Raw: Add the leaves to salads or sandwiches for a crunchy texture and mushroom-like taste.
- Cooked: Use the leaves as a garnish or add them at the last minute to stir-fries, stews, and soups. They can be used as a substitute for spinach or salad leaves in any recipe.
Best Time to Grow
Plant the Mushroom Plant in spring to take advantage of its growth during the wet season. It goes dormant during winter.
Grow the Mushroom Plant!
The Mushroom Plant offers a delightful fusion of ornamental beauty, unique flavor, and exceptional nutritional benefits. With its mushroom-like leaves and versatility in the kitchen, it’s a fantastic addition to any garden. Whether you use it as a ground cover, decorative border, or an edible green, the Mushroom Plant is sure to bring both visual appeal and culinary delight to your garden. Embrace the versatility of this plant and enjoy the mushroom flavor without any fungal concerns. Grow the Mushroom Plant, and elevate your gardening and culinary experiences to new heights!