I had the pleasure of a road trip with my little sister Belinda and her friend Trish, to Waterhouse on the North East corner of Tasmania, where we lay on a carpet of Pigface, Carpobrotus rossii, as Trish showed us how to pick the best fruits to eat and how to suck the inside pulp from the fruit. While we were enjoying the salty, sweet snacks she spoke of her great great grand father, Manalargenna sending smoke signals from Cape Barren to his family on the mainland of Tasmania. To hear such stories while in such a magical place brings a feeling of connection to the land, its bounty, history and language, that I think many of us are starving for. Next to our pigface picnic was another coastal edible, Coast Beard Heath, Leucopogon parviflorus. Here it was a full sized, well proportioned shrub, but was laying flat on the ground. The strong, salty winds had burnt off every shoot that attempted to grow upright, leaving this specimen and its neighbours looking very Dali-esque.
This species produces copious amounts of white acid/sweet fruits, with relatively large stones, through late Summer and early Autumn, but you have to be up before the seagulls to sample the best. For the horticulturally minded admirer to germinate these seeds we have to replicate the processes that they have evolved to undergo. Such a tasty fruit was designed to be eaten, and distributed by our feathered and furred friends, and to imitate the digestive tract we must ferment the fruits, then wash away the remaining flesh and soak in an alkaline solution, then sow the seed and await the following Spring to see it germinate. To have such a lovely plant in your garden is well worth the patience and effort involved.