Plant Profile – Midyim Berry bush

Also known as:

  • Austromyrtus dulcis
  • Midgen Berry
  • Midgem Berry
  • Sand Berry

Growing conditions:

  • Well-drained or sandy soil with a neutral ph
  • Part shade/full sun
  • Shrub (full sun) or groundcover (shade)
  • Up to 2 metres
  • Suitable for pots, rockeries, hedges and garden beds
  • Tolerates moderate pruning

Propagation

  • Cuttings
  • Fresh cleaned seed (germination 3-4 weeks)
  • Uncleaned seeds (germination 4-5 weeks)
  • Seeds need no stratification
The dark green mature leaves are almost as pretty as the red new growth.

The fruit of this plant has been hailed as a superfood. The berries are about the size of a blueberry and the flavour (from my experience) is reminiscent of blueberries with a touch of eucalyptus. The scientific name refers to the berries and translates to Sweet Southern Myrtle (Latin: Austro=Australis=Southern, Myrtus=Myrtle, Sweet=dulcis). The Naturalist James Backhouse, who travelled through the Australian colonies and took specimens back to Kew Gardens describes the berries favourably and cites them as an important food for local Aborigines. His quotes are recorded variously in historical record.

“…Taking therefore my compass, I determined to make my way direct to my companions, whom I succeeded in reaching, after same fatigue, by wading through a lagoon and crossing some steep hills. The latter was overgrown by Myrtus tenuifolia, a Myrtle of low stature with narrow leaves, and sweet aromatic, white berries spotted with purple. These are the most agreeable native fruit I have tasted in Australia; They are produced so abundantly as to afford an important article of food to the Aborigines…”

James Backhouse in A Narrative of a Visit to the Australian Colonies 1843

I planted two of these and the one in full sun thrived while the one in part shade was slow but steady. The plant in full sun flowered and fruited readily until a combination of flooding rains and increasing shade from the plants around it caused it to perish. I was devastated and unknowingly made the situation worse by giving it more water. If this happens again I will remove and replant in a position with better drainage and more sun. Apart from this event Midyim Berry Bushes have been a rewarding addition to my garden.

This plant is never more delightful than when the white flowers contrast with the red new growth and pink buds about to burst open.

The red new growth is delightful and the tiny flowers are gorgeous. Add to this the grey berries speckled with dark blue spots and this species is a perfect feature plant.

A drawing of the leaves for my sketchbook.

If you want to grow this subtle beauty, find a spot with good drainage and plenty of sun as well as protection from heavy frosts. This will reap rewards with occasional watering in hot weather.

Wishing you bursts of berry goodness,

Jane Grows Garden Rooms

References:

Tucker Bush

Australian National Botanic Gardens

Pull Up Your Plants

Pull Up Your Plants on Medium

Australian Bushfoods

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