Old Man Saltbush, also known as Bluegreen or Giant Saltbush is a versatile plant and great Bush Food. Adapted to arid conditions with saline soils, Saltbush is native to most parts of Australia. The United Nations Carbon Emission Trading Scheme has identified Old Man Saltbush as assisting with the reduction of greenhouse warming.
Indigenous Australians have traditionally utilised the seeds and leaves of Saltbush, which are collected and ground and used in damper and to flavour foods. The leaves were also sometimes eaten fresh or added to meat as it cooked. This dried and ground Old Man Saltbush leaf has been wild-harvested in South Australia, where it grows pesticide-free. It has a soft, salty flavour – slightly earthy – and can be used as a direct substitute for salt as a seasoning or condiment.
Old Man Saltbush grows from seeds or cuttings. Soak the seeds overnight and plant them in trays or pots filled with seed-raising mix. Water regularly to keep the soil moist and be patient, as germination can take up to 4-6 weeks.
Alternatively, take semi-hardwood cuttings 8-10cm long and insert the base into a propagating mix, ie. a mix of potting mix and sand. Position in a warm spot and water regularly to keep soil moist.
Once established, Old Man Saltbush is drought tolerant. However, it will benefit from an aoccasional deep watering during hot, dry spells. Feed in spring with a slow-release native feritliser if needed.
Warndu Bush Botanical Seeds
Note: The term 'Bush Tucker' and 'Bush Food' are not Warndu's preferred terms for Australian Native Ingredients or Australian Botanicals.
Images: © Luisa Brimble