Mushroom Plant ~ Rungia Klossii

edible plants incredible edibles plant lists plant medicine tropical superfoods Aug 23, 2023
Rungia Klossii - Mushroom Plant with Earth Mumma Permaculture

Keynotes: Herbaceous layer, protects soil from erosion, use as edging, plant into shaded areas, eat leaves. 

For any that doesn't like to or can't drink milk, this plant is a great way ally for nourishing your body with calcium in a plant based form. It is a unique, as a protein-rich perennial herb that tastes like Mushrooms! Eating it in salads is a joy, as it adds extra crunch. In regards to planting, it a great filler for shady areas and will grow larger, softer leaves when not exposed to harsh sun but in saying that, it can grow in full sun, resulting in smaller leaves with extra crunch. 

Get acquainted with the nutritious and delicious edible plants that almost grow themselves so you can create food security in your home garden. This blog provides the keynotes for use, my anecdotal experience, placement in my permaculture system, plus all the facts to identify, grow and eat this plant!

I have mushroom plant growing in my herb spiral for easy access when harvesting other herbs and salad greens in my zone 1 kitchen garden, off my deck. That's the go-to patch, however once it is growing in your system, it can be easily propagated to fill in other areas of a garden. I particularly like it in a food forest setting, as i does well under fruit trees in shade. 

My recent addition was to pop it in a wall pot and hang it vertically near my front gate so I can have a much each time I walk in or out of my garden. There is nothing like superfoods on the kind of convenience or fast food!

This is just one of 32 incredible edible plants (see my blog with the list) that I can't live without and grow in my nursery for others who want them too.

In my experience, they do not spread or overgrow quickly and I have never seen it grow to 1 meter tall as other research says. During the winter, mine slows down in growth and summer time it doubles in size, unless we harvest and eat it. Interestingly, when it is harvested, it will split at the stem where cut, so this helps it bush out and grow more compact with stronger stems. Learn more about how to identify it, grow it, and how to eat it below!  

Common Name: Mushroom Plant, Acanth Spinach, Shombay, Moku, Tani, Aimbe, Kenkaba.

Latin Name: Rungia klossii.

Origin: Papua New Guinea.

Description (what it looks like): A low-growing, perennial clumping plant, up to 1 metre in height, with glossy oval shaped dark green leaves that taste similar to mushrooms. Leaves grow up to 8cm long and form slightly crinkled. Some leaves form yellow stripes along the veins, commonly ones touched by sunlight. Small bright blue lip-like flowers 1cm long appear from time to time.

Uses (function): Grown in thick clumps, it can be hedged into low height garden edging or path borders.  Nutritious edible layer in a permaculture system that protects soil as a ground cover. The plant has excellent potential to be developed as a commercial crop as the stems and leaves carry well when cut.

Nutritional value: Very rich in chlorophyll and one of the highest sources of plant calcium. Especially rich in Vitamin C, beta-carotene and iron with traces of other minerals. Valued for its blood building and cleansing properties. Those who suffer Candida, thrush or similar ailments, can enjoy eating this plant for the mushroom flavour and not be affected by a ‘fungus’. Mushroom plant leaves have 3% protein (higher in protein than actual mushrooms). 

Growing details (propagation, seed etc): Cuttings 15-20cm long can be rooted easily in a glass of water or pushed into moist soil. Strip the leaves off the bottom half of the stems and bury in soil to half their length. Three to four stems can be planted each hole to create thicker clumps of plants (path border, low hedge).  Remember to keep the soil moist. Regular picking is recommended, as this keeps the plant bushy and productive. When harvesting, cut the stems to encourage it to branch.

Best time to grow: Plant out in spring, as it thrives over the wet season and goes dormant during winter.

Soil: It prefers a moderate to rich loam, enriched with compost to improve yields.

Sun: Shade loving for lush large leaves (0%-50% sun only). Full sun will produce smaller leaves.  

Water: Keep moist, but not waterlogged.

How to eat it: Leaves taste like mushrooms and are crunchy and enjoyed by people who do not like actual mushrooms. Eat raw, tossed in a salad, sandwich or use as garnish.  Add at last minute to stir-fries, stews and soups.  Anything that calls for spinach or salad leaves can be replaced with the mushroom plant leaves as a substitute.


Images references:

If this information was helpful, learn about more of the plants we love to grow and eat here: Incredible Edibles Tropical Superfoods GuideMy Pesto recipe is featured in it too! in my Grab my book here or join my mailing list to stay tuned for future blogs with these 'garden to plate' recipes. 

If you already have my book, you might like to expand your garden species with Blake Hudson's book: Tropical Food Plants, which is an extensive resource that explores the incredible diversity of more than 121 edible tropical plants that can be grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world. He has carefully selected the most appropriate for tropical regions, such as Australia, Florida and the Asia Pacific. Learn more about it here: Tropical Food Plants - A Field Guide to Tropical Edible Plants, by the EarthEartisan.

Tropical gardening can be easy if you know what you are doing. It is true to say that it is a whole different experience to temperate climates. My blog: Tropical Planting Guide - A List of Plants Annual Vegetable Gardening, offers some insight into the best growing times with respect to our wet and dry seasons and, better yet, grab the free download to print and use to plan your abundant veggie patch. I have also provided some gardening tips that will help you on your garden-to-plate journey, such as planting by the moon, staggering harvests and seed suppliers!

If it is the practical hands-on and permaculture design skills you want to gain, then come along to learn with like-minded folk in our garden (mine and Blake's) or other wonderful demonstration sites in our FNQ region. You can learn more about my offerings here:

Yes, we have plants available in our home nursery. Please contact me if you would like to order some to get your garden growing!

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