Jaimie Sweetman is Head Gardener of the Edible Forest located on the Yarra Valley Estate in Dixons Creek. Tours of the Edible Forest, often led by Jaimie, take place on Fridays and Saturdays – read more and book your place on a future tour.
The ‘Toon’ is a striking edible tree known for its bright red spring foliage (which in Asia symbolises the end of winter and the start of spring). Getting up to 4-5 metres high and suckering (not weedy but does slowly spread), it makes a great back layer in a border. We have ours along the back fence and, as they are tall and skinny, they look architectural whilst not taking up lots of space.
It is widely eaten as a vegetable in China. The new shoots in Spring, when young and tender, have a crunchy texture and taste like spring onions. The leaves can be used fresh or added into any dish that would usually use spring onions, and the best part is as they are not part of the allium family so those with allergies or on the FODMAP diet can eat them.