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Yam daisy plants with yellow flowers
It may look like a weed, but the yam daisy is far from it. This native perennial herb has been cultivated for centuries as bush tucker. Its edible fleshy, tuberous roots were widely eaten until it was almost eradicated by extensive sheep grazing. Now it’s back in cultivation and can be easily grown in your garden.


What you need to know about yam daisy

Name: yam daisy, murnong, native dandelion (Microseris lanceolata).

Height: 15–50cm.

Plant type: perennial herb.

Climate: cool and warm temperate, sub-tropical.

Soil: tolerant of most types, but prefers well-drained soils enriched with organic matter.

Position: full sun to part shade.

Foliage: tufted rosette of narrow, toothed leaves.

Flowering and fruiting: bright-yellow daisy-like flowers appear in spring, summer or autumn, followed by a crown of fluffy, creamy-tan coloured seed heads.

Feeding: not required.

Watering: drought-tolerant once established, but regular watering is ideal for good growth, especially during hot, dry periods.

Appearance and characteristics of yam daisy

At first glance, this native perennial can be easily mistaken for dandelion or flatweed. However, it does have some distinguishing features. The yam daisy has a tufted basal rosette of narrow, lance-like leaves that give rise to slender stems topped with vibrant yellow flower heads. Another difference lies in its flowers, which are arched or drooped when closed or in bud, but sit upright when open and flowering. The flower heads droop again when developing seeds, but open and sit erect when the seeds are ripe and ready for dispersal.

Yam daisy develops fleshy tuberous roots that are commonly eaten fresh or cooked in savoury dishes or desserts. It has a unique sweet coconut-like flavour with grassy notes.

Once established, yam daisy is drought and lightly frost tolerant. It will die back in periods of extended drought, but new shoots will emerge from the underground tubers when drought breaks.

Uses for yam daisy

This fast-growing perennial is ideal for growing in bush tucker gardens or in the vegie patch. The leaves are slightly bitter, but ideal in salads when accompanied with a vinegar dressing. Its thin, tuberous roots can be eaten raw and have a sweet coconut flavour. When fried or roasted, they taste a bit like potatoes, but slightly saltier. They can also be ground into a paste and made into yam cakes. 

How to grow yam daisy

Choose a spot in full sun with well-drained soil. Enrich with compost and well-rotted manure and dig in well. If growing in a pot, use a quality potting mix. Dig a hole twice as wide and to the same depth as the existing root ball. Remove the plant from its pot, gently loosen the soil to free the roots, and place in the centre of the planting hole. Backfill, firm the soil and water in well.

Spread a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant to help conserve soil moisture and suppress competing weeds.

Caring for yam daisy

This hardy perennial needs little care and maintenance. Once established, it is drought-hardy, but will benefit from occasional watering. There is no need to prune yam daisy. If desired, deadhead the flowers or remove the seed heads once finished. Yam daisy is pest and disease-free.

How often should you water and feed yam daisy?

Water regularly when first planted. Once established, it can tolerate dry periods but will grow better with a deep watering once every couple of weeks, or more often in hot dry weather. In periods of hard drought, yam daisies will go dormant and die back, but don’t worry, they will grow back when the drought breaks.

Feeding isn’t essential, but yam daisies benefit from a dressing of a complete, organic-based fertiliser suitable for native plants once a year. This will help nourish the soil, while also gently feeding the plants.

How and when to harvest yam daisy

Harvest the tubers in autumn, using a fork to gently lift them up. To allow the plants to continue to grow and produce year-on-year, only harvest the offshoots, leaving the main tubers. 

How to propagate yam daisy

Yam daisy grows from seeds. Fill a tray with seed-raising mix and lay the fluffy seeds on top. Cover lightly with sand or more seed-raising mix and gently water. Position in a warm protected spot and mist regularly to keep the soil moist. Germination takes 2–4 weeks.

Safety tip

After applying fertiliser, delay harvesting for a few days and rinse well before cooking and eating. If using products to deal with pests, diseases or weeds, always read the label, follow the instructions carefully and wear suitable protective equipment. Store all garden chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.

If you like this then try

Round baby pigface: a fleshy, spreading ground cover with beautiful pink flowers and edible leaves.

Illawarra plum: a popular bush tucker tree with small fruit that tastes sweet with a hint of pine.

Ruby saltbush: a low-growing native shrub with edible salty-sweet berries. 

Start planting today

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Photo credit: Adobe Stock and tuckerbush.com.au


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