Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis)


Jaimie Sweetman is Head Gardener of the Edible Forest located on the Yarra Valley Estate in Dixons Creek. There are regular tours of the Edible Forest, often led by Jaimie – read more and book your place on a future tour.

You may know yerba mate as an ingredient in many tea blends and its caffeinated leaves have been used for centuries to make a drink similar to black tea. First consumed by indigenous Guaraní people in Paraguay, it is now a popular drink in many South American countries.

This evergreen tree will not grow well outdoors in Melbourne but it will do well inside in a lit up room with consistent watering and looks quite nice as an indoor plant. We have ours in a hot house, where it has been growing quite happily for a couple years and is now getting big enough to harvest.

They do not mind a good prune and this can be simply done by harvesting leaves for cups of tea. They like fertile soil so, if growing in a potting mix, they will benefit from regular feedings.

In summary, this tree can be an indoor plant which both looks good and is useful, providing a great alternative to normal caffeinated drinks.

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