Bush Tucker Articles

  • 10 Aug 2020 11:37 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    (Billardiera species)

    Billardiera belong to the Family Pittosporaceae, and are a genus of climbing plants limited to Australia. They were named after Jacques de Labillardiere a French botanist who visited Australia.

    Billardiera cymosa

    Common Name: Sweet Apple berry
    Normal Distribution: SA and Vic.

    The sweet apple berry is a small, wiry, light climbing plant with narrow to oblong pointed leaves and attractive cream to pink, to mauve to bluish-white tubular flowers with flared tips borne in clusters. The fruits are green to blackish, sometimes reddish, and when mature are known to be edible. As a bush food species it is gaining popularity, and as a native species is quite easy to propagate. It has an aniseed-like flavour, although over-ripe fruit are said to be sweet. Indigenous people made use of this bush tucker once the fruit were ripe and had fallen to the ground.

    The plant requires a host to climb and twine through, although grows well on a trellis. It prefers well drained soils, and is quite hardy surviving anywhere from 300mm to 850mm rainfall.

    As a bush food crop the quantity of fruits produced are minuscule. However it is an adaptable plant, which benefits from light applications of slow release fertiliser and drip irrigation during drier periods.

    Billardiera scandens

    Common Names: Appleberry, Apple Dumpling, Apple Dumpling Plant, Potato Apple, and Tasmanian Blueberry
    Normal distribution: eastern and south-eastern Australia from Queensland to Tasmania.

    This appleberry is also a slender, twining creeper, found naturally in moist eucalypt forests and heaths. It is quite a hardy plant and grows well in full sun and on well drained soils. It has toothed or wavy edged, furry, sometimes silky, yellow-green leaves which tend to tum purple with age. The pendulous, tubular to bell-shaped flowers are creamy to yellow-green and sometimes purple. The fruits are small, yellow to olive-green berries, although may be purple to red in colour when ripe.

    It has numerous small seeds embedded in its sweet edible pulp.

    As a bush food crop it grows well on trellises, or as a matted ground cover. The mature fruit are juicy, and have a flavour similar to stewed apples hence its name by the early settlers as the apple dumpling berry. The fleshy fruits weigh about 2 grams each and like the sweet apple berry the quantity produced is small. Over-ripe fruit are sweet tasting. Indigenous use of the plant as bush tucker was generally once the fruits were ripe and had dropped to the ground.

    Seed and cuttings are often difficult to establish, however once germinated will grow rapidly, and may produce fruit in the first year. Honeyeaters and other birds will be attracted to the tubular flowers.

    As a bush food, the appleberry can be added to fresh fruit salads and can be used in pies and yeast bakery products. Their flavour is enhanced in pies when used with apples.

    Billardiera longiflora

    Common Name: Purple berry or climbing blue berry.
    Distribution: NSW, Vic, Tas.

    It is also a slender, twining creeper which thrives in semi-shade and cooler and moister areas. It has narrow dark green leaves and pale green tubular flowers, and oval shaped shiny purple berries which hang like drupels from the twiggy stems.

    This is a little harder to propagate as seeds may not germinate for many months, however it does strike well from cuttings. It is also used as a bush food but is not as yet as popular as the sweet appleberry.

    References:

    Australian Bush Products (1997) Climbers and Creepers species list and aeneral information. ABP.
    Bonney,N.(1997) Economic Native Trees and Shrubs for South Australia. GASA.
    Cribb,AB & JW. (1974) Wild Food in Australia. Collins.
    Isaacs, J. (1991) BushFood. Ure Smith..
    Smith, K. & I. (1991) Grow Your Own Bushfoods. New Holland Publishers.

    (Reprinted from Rockhampton Branch Newsletter, June 2000)

  • 9 Aug 2020 11:40 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    (Araucaria bidwillii)

    The Bunya Pine (Araucaria bidwillii) is a large tree, growing 30-45 metres in height, with a straight, rough-barked trunk and a very distinctive, symmetrical, dome-shaped crown. It has sharply pointed, lance-shaped leaves, about 2.5cm long, which make it uncomfortable to be around if barefoot, as it drops twigs and leaves frequently. The timber of the Bunya Pine is beautifully grained and is highly valued as a cabinet timber and by woodworkers.

    It is an emergent species in rainforest and is confined to Queensland, where it occurs mainly between Nambour and Gympie and west to the Bunya Mountains, with a small occurrence in north Queensland on Mt. Lewis and at Cunnabullen Falls.

    The Bunya Pine produces large green cones the size of footballs, each containing 50-100 large nuts, which are encased within a woody shell. The kernel of this nut is a pale beige colour with a firm but waxy texture. The interior of the shell is lined with a fine brown fibre, some of which usually adheres to the nut, but can be eaten with no problems. Cones are to be found during late January and early February in the coastal districts of southern Queensland, and usually about March in the Bunya Mountains. They are not produced every year.

    These Bunya Nuts were a rich source of food for the Aborigines of south-east Queensland. During the Bunya season they would temporarily set aside their tribal differences and gather in the mountains for great Bunya Nut Feasts. The aboriginal word for the Bunya Pine was actually bon-yi and the Blackall Range, west of the Sunshine Coast, was known to our local Pine Rivers aborigines as the Bon-yi Mountains. Rollo Petries grandfather, Tom Petrie, was the only free white man to ever attend a bon-yi feast. It was Toms father, Andrew Petrie, who discovered this tree around 1838, and who later gave specimens to Mr. John Bidwill, after whom it was ultimately named.

    The Aborigines ate the Bunya Nut raw or roasted, and they also buried them in mud for several months. This was said to greatly improve the flavour and may have been a means of storing them. Certainly, raw nuts in their shells, that have been stored in the bottom of the refrigerator in a sealed container for several months, have a much sweeter taste, and are as fresh as the day they fell from the tree, even though the shells may look a bit mouldy.

    I have found many uses for the fruit of the Bunya Pine, both cooked and raw and in savoury and sweet dishes. It is one of the most versatile and useful of all our native foods My family and friends have been mostly willing, but sometimes unwitting guinea pigs, as I researched various recipes for the Go Native - Wild Food Cookbook. So far I have used Bunya Nuts in soups, casseroles, quiches, pies, pastas, vegetables, desserts, cakes, biscuits, bread, damper, scones, pikelets, pastry, lollies and porridge.

    The simplest way to prepare Bunya Nuts for eating is to put them in a saucepan of water and boil for about half an hour. Remove from the water and split open while still hot. Remove from the shell and serve with butter (pepper and salt if required). They may be eaten cold, but are better hot.

    Article by Jan Sked

  • 8 Aug 2020 11:55 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    (Pleiogynium timorense)

    This can be a large and shapely tree to 20 metres or more under good conditions, or a stunted, almost bonsai shrub under harsher conditions.

    Formerly known as Pleiogynium solanderi, the Burdekin Plum has a dark grey trunk and often glossy, compound leaves. This tree can be found in vine thickets, gallery rainforest and along creek lines in tropical Queensland and Papua New Guinea.

    Even within a small area, Burdekin Plum can be extremely variable in appearance and the fruit vary considerably in size, colour and taste. In the wild, fruiting occurs in the winter months and seeds are apparently dispersed by flying foxes and wallabies. As with its close relative, the Mango, the flowers are small and insignificant.

    Seeds germinate readily if they have been soaked in a bucket of water for 24 hours prior to planting. Burdekin Plum can be a little slow in the first couple of years, but soon puts on some fairly rapid growth. Eight years seems to be the minimum age for fruiting. However, grafting may produce some interesting effects. Burdekin Plums are widely grown in Townsville gardens and revegetation projects.

    The fruit were popular with Aborigines, explorers and settlers, but seem to have fallen into disuse some time after World War II. They are fortunately experiencing a revival.

    The large, black, globular or pumpkin-shaped fruit vary in taste. Those that have red-purplish flesh are quite tart, those with a pale greenish-white flesh are milder but less tasty. Some fruit are half red - half white, and these are delicious! This variety occurs naturally around Townsville.

    The riper the fruit, the less unpleasant the drying effect of eating the fruit. In the centre is a large pitted stone which usually fills 70-80% of the total fruit. They do not ripen on the tree, but must be stored, either buried in sand or kept in paper bags in a dark spot for a few days.

    They can either be eaten raw, cooked into jam or jelly, used to flavour meat, or to make wine. A ripe fruit is mostly water (73%), but has moderate levels of energy, fat, vitamin C and is high in fibre and most minerals. Analysis has shown that, like tree shape and fruit colour, the nutritional content is extremely variable between trees.

    Experimental plantations are being established and there seems to be enormous potential for selecting superior varieties and grafting. The timber is regarded as one of the best native timbers by wood turners, who prefer to salvage fallen trees rather than cut down such a useful tree!

    Look for old seeds underneath the tree. They look like little UFOs with portholes in the side.

    Burdekin Plum is in the family Anacardiaceae, along with Mangoes and Cashew Nuts.

    Article by Greg Calvert

    (Reprinted from "The Native Gardener", SGAP Townsville Newsletter, August 1997)

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