Geraldton Waxflower (Chamelaucium uncinatum) is endemic to Western Australia and is thought to only occur naturally on the coastal Quindalup dunes between Perth and Geraldton.

The native shrub produces a proliferation of white and pink flowers from late winter to spring and is prized for its culinary uses and as a cut flower.

Perth-based plant breeder Adrian Parsons was one of the early commercial producers of Geraldton waxflower, cultivating it for its edible properties. With a zesty, citrus tang, the edible leaves — which resemble pine needles — and waxy flowers have a flavour similar to lemongrass, lemon myrtle or kaffir lime.

Parsons runs Helix Australia, which is one of the world’s largest breeders of waxflower. “The Helix range is unique as we have developed new colours, larger blooms, extended flowering periods and a waxflower with outstanding edible properties,” he says.

However, not all of Helix Australia’s waxflower varieties are suitable for cooking. To find the best one, the company ran various blind taste tests with chefs before selecting a hybrid.

For Parsons, the culinary variety of waxflower offers chefs and mixologists a point of difference as well as great promise in lifting the flavour profile of various menu items. “Waxflower could potentially be the next edible Australian lemongrass,” he says.

Similar to an aromatic culinary herb and an accessible addition to the kitchen garden, waxflower is a versatile plant as the stems and the leaves can be used in cooking. For instance, the fresh stems can be added to fish and meat dishes, while the leaves can be stripped and processed in a mortar and pestle.

“Waxflower is currently being used as a fresh herb in restaurants, as a dry leaf in a waxflower and lemon tea, as a fresh botanical in gin, as a freeze-dried powder in beer and in some baking products,” says Parsons.

Perth-based Executive Chef Jed Gerrard from the Ritz-Carlton has been championing geraldton wax on his menus since discovering it a few years ago, and it’s increasingly being spotted on other menus across the country at restaurants including Attica and Rockpool Bar & Grill.

With a unique flavour profile and versatility across many different foodservice applications, we expect to see much more of the native Australian ingredient soon.

Image credit: Yates