Anise Myrtle

24.05.17

Anise myrtle (Syzygium anisatum币游注册) is a native rainforest species that has leaves with strong liquorice and aniseed flavours. Also known as aniseed myrtle and ringwood, it is found naturally in the subtropical rainforests of northern New South Wales along the streams and lower slopes of the Bellinger and Nambucca valleys.

Overview

币游注册In the wild, anise myrtle is a medium to tall tree, occasionally growing 45m tall. In commercial plantations, it is pruned for ease of management and harvest, and maintained to the size of a large shrub or small tree.

The leaves of the anise myrtle are dried and ground for tea and spice, or distilled to produce essential oil. Processors and restaurants traditionally sourced leaves from wild-harvested product. However, market demand for consistent supply and concern about the environmental impact of wild harvest on rainforest ecosystems, led to cultivation of the tree in plantations. Anise myrtle performs well and has been an attractive ornamental tree in landscapes and home gardens for many years.

Anise myrtle is a small but stable native food industry.

Anise myrtle is typically grown on farms with other rainforest food species, such as lemon myrtle, cinnamon myrtle, lemon-scented tea trees, riberries, Davidson’s plums and sometimes round or finger limes and other species.

Facts and figures

  • Anise myrtle leaf is one of the highest sources of the compound anethole which gives it the aniseed flavour and aroma
  • The mature leaves of anise myrtle are mainly dried and ground for use as herbal tea and spice
  • Anise myrtle essential oil can be used as a food flavouring, or in health, cosmetic and body care products

Production status

Accurate information is not readily available for the native foods industry but a stocktake of the industry provides good estimates of industry characteristics, production figures and product value.

The industry stocktake reported that in 2001 over 30,000 trees were planted in south east Queensland, and the northern and mid-north coastal regions of New South Wales. Many growers planted several thousand trees in single species stands and these are generally on farms that also have lemon myrtle stands. It is believed that existing plantings have the capacity to produce much greater volumes but there are not the markets available to consume the supply.

币游注册Some growers have less than 300 anise myrtle trees in mixed species stands, with lemon myrtle, cinnamon myrtle, lemon-scented tea trees, riberries and Davidson’s plums and sometimes round or finger limes and other species. The concept was based on not creating a monoculture, which provides good pest and disease management, however machine harvesting is then not possible and therefore production volumes are limited. This system suits an operation that value-adds and markets its own product.

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Map of current and potential growing regions

Uses

The mature leaves of anise myrtle are mainly dried and ground for use as herbal tea and spice. Anise myrtle is sometimes sold as ‘anisata spice’ and can replace aniseed or star anise in sweet or savoury cooking. It is used in sauces, drinks, curry, cakes and other products. The fresh leaves may be steam distilled to obtain anise myrtle essential oil, which can be used as a food flavouring, or in health, cosmetic and body care products.

Anise myrtle has a range of properties that make it a candidate for use in health and therapeutic products. It has high antioxidant activity and is rich in magnesium and is also a good source of lutein, folate, vitamin E, vitamin C and has been shown to have anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties.

Far fewer value-added products containing anise myrtle have been developed compared with the extensive range containing lemon myrtle.

A number of research projects have been conducted to understand and investigate the properties of anise myrtle, and other native foods, including health benefits and health-enhancing compounds in native foodsphysiological activities of native foods,  nutritional datadefining the flavours of native foods, and  using native oils for the management of postharvest diseases of horticultural crops.

币游注册  has become a serious disease concern for several native food species, especially anise myrtle. Myrtle rust is a fungal disease first found in Australia in April 2010 but by December 2011, it had spread from Cairns in far north Queensland to Victoria. Left untreated, the disease can cause deformed leaves, heavy defoliation of branches, dieback, stunted growth and even plant death.

Infrastructure Requirements

币游注册The cultivation of anise myrtle requires standard equipment for plantation maintenance such as a tractor, mower or slasher, and sprayer.

币游注册An irrigation system and soil moisture monitoring equipment is required if production is to be maximised.

币游注册Anise myrtle tends not to be a viable business as a single enterprise, therefore harvesting and drying equipment would not be a viable investment, unless it was going to be used for other species as well. Growers generally use a contractor for harvest and drying.

Harvest equipment is based on modified vineyard pruning saws mounted on the front of a tractor, which cuts the material from the trees in a hedging fashion. There is no standard harvesting equipment because the industry has had to modify machinery used in other horticultural enterprises.

The equipment, however, requires the capacity to collect the leaf material once it is cut, which may involve sweepers attached to the tractor that transfer the cut material into a trailed bin. Some bins are custom-designed to fit into the drying facility, eliminating the need to handle the product between harvest and drying.

Harvesting & Processing

Plantation anise myrtle may be harvested mechanically or manually. Larger operations (more than 1,000 trees) are harvested mechanically. Anise myrtle can be harvested all year but location, operation size and end product will influence the harvest regime. A commercial operation should strive for two harvests each year. Typically, smaller growers may hand harvest to fill orders.

币游注册At harvest, leaf and stem material is cut from the tree. Depending on the end product and quality required, leaf may be dried on the stem or stripped from the stem before drying. The leaves must be dried quickly to preserve the anethole content. The dried leaves are milled or ground according to end product requirements, and then stored in dark, temperature controlled environments.

Anise myrtle essential oil is produced by steam distillation of the fresh leaf and stem material. Distillation should be carried out as soon as possible to ensure the highest quality oil. If the trees are overgrown and have thick stems (greater than 30mm), the harvested material may be chipped before distilling.

The dried leaf and extracted oil may be further processed and packaged on farm and sold as value-added product; or they may be sold as raw product to distributors, wholesalers or processors for further manufacturing.

Markets & Marketing

The industry stocktake币游注册 reported that anise myrtle was oversupplied for existing markets. Small-scale producers claimed that there was a lack of demand and they were only harvesting to fill ad hoc orders. By contrast, large producers who were filling larger volume orders primarily for export, claimed supply and demand to be in balance.

The market for anise myrtle is far less developed than that for lemon myrtle. Research has shown that the health benefits of the two myrtles to be similar, so this may provide opportunities for the promotion of anise myrtle in the future.

, which affects a range of species and native food plants. Left untreated, the disease can cause deformed leaves, heavy defoliation of branches, dieback, stunted growth and even plant death.