Sweetleaf, Katuk /Sauropus Androgynus/

Katuk Sweetleaf is a perennial, shrubby plant with small red flowers and white/purple fruit. Multiple stems grow from the base of the plant to about 2.5 metres tall. Also known as tropical asparagus, the protein rich leaves, young stems and tender tips are one of the most prolific, nutritious and appetizing of all green vegetables.

Can be grown in partial shade to full sun.

Production Requirements

Climate

Tropical. Will grow in the subtropics in a frost-free sheltered position.

Cultivation

A hardy plant Sweetleaf is tolerant of poor soils and will survive both drought and flooding but will do best in a fertile and well-drained soil.
It is sensitive to strong winds so grow with some wind protection.
Grows in full sun and semi shade.
Give it a sheltered northeast-facing site and you will be rewarded with tender sweet shoots all Summer.
Prune the plant as you harvest to keep it bushy and producing.
Grows well as a hedge or living fence.
Plant in Spring from seed or propagate from cuttings, 20-30cm long.
Plant 60cm apart.

Propagation

Sweetleaf grows easily from hardwood or semi-hardwood cuttings. Propagate the cuttings in late Summer and over Winter in a sheltered position. Plant out in late Spring once the soil has warmed up.

Edible parts

Young leaves and shoots can be eaten raw in salads and have a flavour similar to asparagus and young peas. Older leaves, small flowers and pea-size fruits are cooked. Steam and add to stir-fries, salads and soups.

Risks and weed potential

None known

Harvesting & Processing

Harvest

Harvest by snapping off young tender shoots about 7cm long.
Sweetleaf can easily become leggy, so regular harvest by tipping will keep the plant bushy.
Occasionally cut it back to hip height. This encourages new growth and keeps growth in check.
Feed your animals the offcuts from pruning or use as mulch.

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