WILDLIFE IN FOCUS
|Tawny Frogmouth-photo David Little|
Tawny Frogmouths can blend into a tree trunk so you wouldn’t know they were there, and they’re often mistaken for Southern Boobooks, but are not owls.
They’re also members of the nightjar family, and are more closely related to kookaburras and kingfishers than they are to owls. What's a nightjar then? Let's find out....I'm talking with ecologist Sue Stevens
Just in case you’re wondering what the difference is between an owl and a nightjar: owls will eat animals and birds up to their own size and sometimes larger, while frogmouths are almost exclusively insectivorous; owl eyes face fully forward whilst frogmouths' eyes face mostly to the side; owls have large, powerful feet, while frogmouths have small, weak feet; owls have either a full or partial facial disk, while frogmouths do not; owls have large asymmetrical ears, while frogmouths do not; and owls have twelve tail feathers whilst frogmouths have ten.If you have any questions or photos of Tawny frogmouths, drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.
VEGETABLE HEROESBetel leaf or Piper sarmentosum
COMMON NAMES: betel pepper, wild pepper, kadok, la lot.
Betel leaf is a native plant to Vietnam and Thailand, and is related to black pepper
If you’ve ever eaten Thai food chances are that you’ve already eaten Betel leaves or at least had food served on a platter of Betel leaves.
Don’t confuse Betel leaf to a different plant to the Betel pepper Piper betle, which is chewed with betel nut.
Traditionally, Betel leaf plant was used to treat fever, as an expectorant, toothache, for coughs, asthma and pleurisy.
Some say it has a somewhat pungent odour and taste, others find it mild with a hint of black pepper.
Betel leaf is an evergreen, perennial creeper that doesn’t grow particularly tall. Only to about 1 metre.
Betel leaf has shiny heart-shaped leaves that have a waxy, glossy surface.
The flowers are small –on white flower spikes.
After flowering little dry rounded fruits with little bulges show up –almost like a little like a green/brown mulberry when ripe and can be eaten;
The fruit is sweet and jelly-like pulp.
So what’s betel leaf got going for it?
As a food, it makes a great 'wrap' for prawns and can be shredded to add to salads and quick stir-fry's.
More on its uses later.
You can grow Betel leaf in most parts of Australia at any time of the year.
Find a spot in fairly good, well-drained soil with partial shade.
Under a tree somewhere is good and keep it moist but don’t overdo it because it doesn’t cope with waterlogging.
Frost will damage the leaves but not kill the plant once it is well established.
Betel leaf makes a good groundcover under trees in subtropical and tropical areas.
In warmer climates Betel leaf grows really well in the right position and because of its habit of suckering can be difficult to remove.
You can grow it successfully in colder areas but not in the ground.
Put your plant in a hanging basket or large pot and move it to a warm, sheltered position in winter.
Although I have heard that the characteristic growth of the plant is to grow on the ground and spread out like a ground cover.
As it spreads it sends down roots from sections.
So growing it like a hanging basket might not be the best advice.
You could try keeping it in a large shallow container so it sends down multiple roots.
If you’re wondering where to buy it and don’t seem to have any luck try an Asian veg. shops.
It’s easy to propagate from cuttings at the hot times of the year.
Growers take the top 20cm of the vine and sell it as a bunch to local markets.
You can buy a bunch of Betel leaves, take of the bottom two-thirds of leaves leaving the top few, and recut the bottom.
Put these cuttings in a glass with water and they will be producing roots in no time.
Another method is to take cuttings again about 25 cm long, strip the leaves off the bottom half of the stems and bury to half their length in potting mix.
Cover with plastic or place these cuttings in a greenhouse and keep moist.
Remember Betel leaf plant likes a wet shaded position protected from frost and midday sun; best under big trees.
Cooking with Betel LeavesThe leaves are large enough to wrap a filling.
Betel leaves are often used ‘open’ topped with something delicious Include them in a stir fry
The spicy leaves are popular in south east Asian cooking, being used raw and cooked. To eat raw in a salad or use as a wrapping the younger more tender leaves are the best to use.
Used in omelettes in Vietnamese cooking and to wrap mince.
In Thailand, these wraps are a favourite snack, 'mieng kum', using an assortment of fillings, like peanuts, shrimps, shallots with lime and raw ginger.
Use as a herb in rice, salads.... They look great as a garnish too .If you soak the leaves in cold water with a little sugar for 2 hours before use this changes the flavour just slightly.
As the leaves are a very attractive heart shape, they’re often used as a base to line platters, with foods arranged on top.
The white flower spikes develop into a small fruit that can be eaten.
Fresh leaves are prone to dryness and fungal rots. Store like lettuce: in the fridge for a few days (3-5) in a sealed plastic bag. Use as soon as possible after purchase.
WHY ARE THEY GOOD FOR YOU?Good source of protein, potassium, nitrogen and minerals.
The plant has many traditional medicinal uses. Malaysians use the leaves for headaches, arthritis and joint pain. In Thailand and China the roots are crushed and blended with salt to relieve toothache.
In Indonesia it’s used as a natural antibiotic, and drunk as a tea daily to benefit health. This tea is also used to keep the body free of unpleasant smells of perspiration.
AND THAT WAS OUR VEGETABLE HERO SEGMENT
DESIGN ELEMENTSwith guest landscape designer Phil Withers
|My Island Home photo M Cannon|
|Coral Reef Garden photo M Cannon|
Echeveria ‘Zorro’ – pinky red leaves with curled edges
Echeveria ‘Tuttifrutti’ – rosettes with a frilled red edge.
Echeveria ‘Afterglow’ – rosette of powdery pinkish-purple with dark pink edge
Echeveria ‘Golden Glow’ - large yellowish rosettes
Echeveria ‘Mauna Loa’ – large frilled edge rosettes colours turn to deep red in sun
Echeveria ‘Violet Queen’ – grey rosette with pinkish tones
Agave parryii (compact form)
Haworthia attenuata – striped stiff green leaves in a small rosette
Euphorbia trigona – angled stems, narrow upright form
Crassula ‘Living Coral’
Sedum rubrotinctum – red jelly beans
Sedum pachyphyllum – jelly beans
Sedum ‘Gold Mound’ – fine golden foliage in mounds
Crassula ovata – spoon-shaped greeny blue foliage
Senecio mandraliscae - blue chalksticks
Senecio serpens – chalksticks
Aeonium ‘Velour’ – loose rosettes with velvety leaves turn dark maroon in cool weather
Kalanchoe thyrsiflora – flap jacks – bluey-green paddle-shaped leaves with red edges