Sweet Leaf or Katuk (Sauropus androgynus) will grow in the Bellinger Valley quite easily if given warmth with shade and plenty of moisture in a reasonably drained position. Protect from cold winds and frosts.
Once you have established the plant you have a permanent (perennial) leafy green vegetable in your garden.
These plants are growing at Fernmount (near Bellingen). They were grown from cuttings, which seem to strike quite easily during summer.
These plants are being tip pruned to keep the plants at a metre. The parent plant reached three metres. The hedge then becomes decorative as well as an easy means of accessing the leaves.
The small leaves are stripped from the thin stems. Young leaves are best. The leaves taste a little like fresh green peas. They can be eaten raw (a few leaves in a salad) but are probably best used as a cooked leafy green vegetable. The young shoots are also eaten.
This plant is a very promising crop for the Bellinger valley, for the home gardener or the small commercial grower. The average home will only need a few plants.
Read More & Warnings
"Leaves should be cooked with coconut milk or oil, ......" Source
"Can also be grown from seed but cuttings are quickest to produce. In spring its fast growth makes beautiful asparagus like top shoots that are easily broken off for a salad or cooking. Can be cooked like any green, here is my favourite tropical recipe. Boil up leaves and tips with some onion and casava in coconut water. Take off boil and add coconut cream, chilli and soy sauce to taste. Delicious! Couldn't be more simple. I have lived on this dish. The smell of sweet leaf cooking is a savory delight."
"There are reports of lung damage in seven months after consumption of raw katuk leaves with a dose of 150 g / day and after 22 months." LINK
"However, a study has suggested that excessive consumption of juiced Katuk leaves (due to its popularity for body weight control in Taiwan in the mid '90s) can cause lung damage, due to its high concentrations of the alkaloid papaverine.
Wikipedia: Sauropus androgynus
"Difficulty sleeping, bad eating, breathing difficulties, at a dose of 150 g of leaf juice consumed raw katuk 2 weeks to 7 months." /myherbsweblog.blogspot
Soil: reported to tolerate acid soils, our soil is circum-neutral and they like it. We recommend lime just in case. Water: probably needs plenty, can tolerate brief flooding. Sun: Prefers shade, but can probably tolerate full sun if given plenty of water. Cold: Will freeze in the winter, but should come back from the stump. Pruning: keep pruned to 3-6 feet tall. Propagation: easily propagated by cuttings of older wood stems. Strip the leaves and stick it in the ground in the shade. It probably needs cross pollination to produce seeds and all our plants are clones of one individual. Pests: none known. Other problems: tends to grow tall and lanky and then fall over. Growth slows in the winter and the taste is poor until it resumes vigor with warm weather. Edible Plant Project
Available Daleys Nursery, Kyogle and mail order or Bellingen Seedsavers
Recipe: Sweet Leaf Soup
Recipe: Sarawak stir fried manicai (Sweet Leaf) with eggs