South Africans are famous for making ingenious plans when encountering obstacles… and hyacinth on Hartbeespoort Dam has literally become an obstacle. But an entrepreneur from Bronkhorstspuit might just have a solution – gin!
Phillip Peach (55) is turning hyacinth into an infused craft gin, aptly called the Green Monster. Bronkhorstspruit Dam is also suffering from hyacinth invasion and Peach started his hyacinth gin project to create more awareness of the problem. He now plans to make his distillery a part of the Bronkhorstspruit tourism route and some of the proceeds will go to the Bronkhorstspruit Catchment Forum (BCF) to assist with the removal of the weed..
He started distilling a few years ago as a hobby but his hobby turned to a new career when he moved to Bronkhorstspruit and encountered the water hyacinth. He started experimenting with the invasive plant and the outcome was the Green Monster, reportedly a delicious, infused gin. And the next one, the Purple Devil, will have a purple tinge like the hyacinth flower and will also be made by distilling the water weed.
Who knew hyacinth was edible? It is highly unlikely that any residents around the Hartbeespoort Dam have tried this ‘delicatessen’. However, if you do, be warned… according to Green Deane, well-known forager and author of ‘Eat the weeds’, hyacinth is “not a bad return if you’re starving or need green vegetables” But it has a downside – eating the invasive water plant might give you an itch! “While young leaves and stems can be eaten cooked or raw, they give quite a few people the itches!”
Also see: Bug explosion will soon address hyacinth infestation