Botanical Name: Drimys lanceolata
Common Names: Mountain Pepper
Habitat: Drimys lanceolata is native to Australia – New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria. It grows on moist places in mountain forests and also in alpine zones to 1500 metres.
Drimys lanceolata is a medium sized red-stemmed, dense, evergreen shrub that can grow up to 4.50 metres tall.It has showy red stems are clad with contrasting aromatic, leathery, lanceolate to narrow-elliptic leaves (to 5” long) which are deep glossy green above and pale green beneath. Pale yellow to creamy white flowers bloom in April-May. Male flowers usually have 5-8 petals whereas female flowers usually have 4 petals. Flowers on female plants, if pollinated, are followed by spherical black berries (to 1/3” diameter) which ripen in early fall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
Requires a light lime-free soil in semi-shade. Prefers a fertile moist but well-drained soil.
A fairly hardy species, surviving very cold winters in various parts of the country so long as it is in a suitable position. It tolerates temperatures down to about -15°c, but plants are liable to be damaged in cold winters. This species is hardier than D. winteri according to one report whilst another says that it is less hardy than D. winteri.
All parts of the plant are very aromatic and pungent.
Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus.
Plants are usually dioecious though monoecious and hermaphrodite forms are known. Male and female plants must usually be grown if seed is required.
Through seeds – best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 10 – 15 cm with a heel, mid summer in a frame. Approximately 60% take.
Layering in early to mid spring. Takes 12 months.
Cuttings of mature wood of the current year’s growth with a heel of older wood, late autumn in a cold frame.
Leaves and berries are currently used in Australian cuisine for adding spicy, peppery flavor to a variety of foods.
Both leaves and berries (sometimes called pepperberries) contain hot-tasting compounds (polygodials). When dried, the pepperberries become grindable peppercorns which serve as a pepper substitute. The leaves produce a pleasant aroma when crushed and have a hot, spicy taste when chewed.
Drimys lanceolata is Antiscorbutic, stomachic, has been proclaimed for medicinal usage dating back to ancient Greeks and Romans, who used it mainly for skin infections, herpes and also as an anti-dote for rabies. It is a low growing plant having lanceolate leaves. P. lanceolata is a small, glabrous plant having one to several rosettes.
The mucilage content of this plant provides a relaxing expectorant action and the presence of tannin provides a soothing effect on the skin as well as gut lining. Dehydration may be caused due to the excess use of the seeds of Plantago lanceolata.
This species makes an excellent windbreak in woodland, it is widely grown as a hedge in mild temperate regions.
Wood – soft, only moderate strength
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.