My thanks to those who have helped produce this 11th issue:
John Wrench and,
of course, the advertisers and contributors.
From the Editor
My grandfather used to say Grace before each meal. He thanked the soil and the rains and his creator for the fruits and seeds and animals which lay on our table.
It would perhaps behove us all to give thought to these things - and offer up some small thanks to the earth which defies our best efforts by continuing to supply us with, not just sustenance, but great and pleasurable foods.
If you are enjoying some of the native foods of this land, you might also give acknowledgment to those people who walked this land and ate these foods long before us.
Which brings me to the letter from Dee Murphy of the Yarrawarra Aboriginal Corporation (Page 3).
She says `there are huge ethical problems not being dealt with at present' and this is true. She asks if the concept of Reconciliation Gardens will not just be another feel good gesture to evade the larger questions and I must agree that tokenism is the simplest remedy to a difficult problem.
I'm not sure there's a simple answer to these issues - however, I am thrilled that she has opened this conversation because I, as a `white fella' have not felt I could make either comment or suggestion until the Aboriginal people had set the stage. I put forward the concept of Reconciliation Gardens because I felt that a bridge was needed, wobbly or makeshift as it might be. I will wait to see if the Aboriginal people embrace it. Without them, it simply won't work.
Dee has proposed a forum in which Aboriginal people feel free to speak their mind. I hope fervently that she can be instrumental in bringing it about.
I've booked my seat at this gathering and look forward to black and white, sun-tanned and city-pale people sitting shoulder to shoulder with a common hope.
Let us eat together.
Oops and An Apology
On Page 31 of Iss. 10 there's a note that the seed of Solanum centrale are toxic. Take heart. There are a number of Solanum which have seeds (and flesh) which you should avoid but this is not one of them.
And very sincere apologies to Horst Weber and Brian Walters for the use of their photos in Issue 10 without either permission or acknowledgement. Those used: Eremophila debilis (p9), Billardiera scandens (p13) and Santalum acuminatum (p31). Not one oversight but three!
Congratulations on a well-organised Bushfood Conference at Griffith University (21/8/99) with excellent presentations by the guest speakers. For the benefit of your readers who sampled the rainforest drink and for those who are interested in its constituents: four kilograms of fruit were used in preparation of the 16 litres consumed at the Conference. The ingredients comprised fourteen different fruits and three species of leaf as follows:
Citrus australis: Native round lime
Citrus glauca: Desert lime
Davidsonia pruriens pruriens: Davidson plum (Northern)
Diploglottis diphyllostegia: Native "tamarind"
Elaeocarpus grandis: Cooloon Kunzia pomifera: Muntries
Pleiogynium timorense: Burdekin Plum
Podocarpus elatus: Brown Pine or Plum Pine
Rubus probus: Atherton Rasberry
Sambucus australasica: Native Elderberry
Syzygium alliiligneum: Onionwood
Syzygium australe: Scrub Cherry Syzygium fibrosum: Fibrous Satinash
Syzygium luehmannii: Riberry
Backhousia anisata: Anise myrtle
Backhousia citriodora: Lemon myrtle
Backhousia myrtifolia: Carrol
This may inspire some of your readers to experiment themselves with delectable results.
One other point of academic interest, Citrus garrawayi is the latest spelling advised by Queensland Herbarium (previously garrawayae). (This has been researched by Mr. Boland who found that it was named after Mr. Garraway, hence the Latin ending in i.). This fruit would have been used, as would various others, if available at the time of preparation.
Best wishes, Jim Hansen
As a bunya enthusiast from way back, I wanted to contact you to encourage you with your work on this greatly underexploited nut.
This year I got my first crop of bunya cones (3) from a tree I had grown from seed and planted myself - the tree was about 20 years old. Although bunyas are reputedly of slow growth and fruiting, I suspect this could be greatly changed by treating them as orchard trees (applied nutrition, watering, etc).
I have actually done quite a lot of research work on bunya.
Our WANATCA Yearbook for 1991 has quite a long article on bunya which I wrote, and around the same time I also made a video on the bunya. I will be glad to send you copies of these if you are interested.
Best regards, David Noel
RE: Aboriginal Involvement in the Bushfoods Industry
As I have been researching native plant foods for more than twenty years (see profile, Page 7), I have watched with great interest the infant years of the `bush tucker industry'.
While a student in the 1980's, I remember writing an assignment in an economic botany course concerning the marketing of Australian plant products. My research indicated that promotion of a new product was best directed at an exclusive boutique clientele. It is timely to note that this is what has happened, with phrases such as `Australian bush food cuisine' being coined. However, at that time, I did not realise how this would affect Aboriginal people, further disenfranchising them.
After working with Aboriginal people for more than 10 years, I have learnt much more about the ethics involved. I have attended several workshops on bush foods with Aboriginal people, who have felt very marginalised by lack of acknowledgement in the industry, and throwaway lines such as `the knowledge has been lost by Aboriginal people', and `the kids don't want to learn anyway.' In these situations, Aboriginal people usually walk away rather than fight (the organisation responsible for this comment subsequently apologised after we walked out and complained, so we will not name them).
We read with sadness the preliminary results of your recent survey (Bushfoods issue 10:6), where facilitating Aboriginal involvement was last on the list of priorities. It is so easy to put this issue in the `too-hard' basket, as most people don't know where to start. There are huge ethical problems not being dealt with at present. We were pleased to see the suggestion of Reconciliation Gardens, but there are dangers here also. Are Aboriginal people going to be pressured into sharing knowledge without payment? Non-Aboriginal people want to make a gesture, but they want it on their terms, in ways that will benefit themselves, and make them feel good. Is this enough? Will the topics of royalties and appropriation of traditional knowledge and resources always be too difficult to deal with? Will the process of reconciliation just be a rubber stamp? We have many suggestions of how to proceed from here, and it may be the right time to convene a workshop to discuss how to facilitate Aboriginal involvement in the bushfoods industry. Some examples follow: Acknowledgement: We always give thanks to the Lumbaingirr Elders at the start of every tour, for their permission to use their traditional land and share their knowledge. Signage may also be used for acknowledgement. Royalties: Perhaps a fund could be established where a small percentage of income from the bushfoods industry was set aside to employ and involve Aboriginal people. Resources: Wild harvesting must be limited, particularly if it is reducing the availability of foods for local Aboriginal people. Sensitive plantation methods also need to be developed, so that monocultures do not create pest and disease problems. Workshops: The concerns of Aboriginal people need to be given a forum where they feel safe to speak. We suggest that Yarrawarra Aboriginal Corporation may be a good location to start with, as we have conference facilities and accommodation, as well as guided tours on our Bush Tucker Track, nursery and plantation.
We have a lot of experience in these areas, because nearly every day we deal with these issues with visitors to Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre. People come, for example, wanting to give something (a plant, an event, etc) an Aboriginal name, to give it authenticity. However, the local Elders have set a rule that we cannot give out Gumbaingirr names to people who are going to make a profit from the use of that knowledge without giving anything back to the local Aboriginal community.
I would like to start people thinking about ways that Aboriginal involvement in the bushfoods industry can be facilitated. Perhaps the Reconciliation Gardens can be a focus for discussion. Please contact us, or visit us at Yarrawana, and see what we can do.
FEATURE: Davidson Plum.
The Value Adders: Greg Trevena and Fudge A'fare
Possum Creek Bushfoods
601 Friday Hut Rd
Possum Creek, Bangalow NSW 2479
Ph: 02 6687 1975
PhD Research Project
Narendra Nand, School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, Griffith University.
Investigation into the commercial potential of Australian Native Fruit species and the application of biotechnology to improve these species
There is a growing interest in the commercial potential of Australian native fruit species as a source of food and medicine. Many of these fruit species form a good food source and some interesting fruit and fruit products have found a niche market in hotels, restaurants, airlines and even in some retail outlets.
Australian native fruits have not been commercially developed due to he concentration on the exotic species which arrived with European and Asian settlers. The rapid development in biotechnology, coupled with economically driven pursuit of novel flavours and products, has given rise to a significant interest in the potential of wild species by producers and scientists.
The purpose of this project is to:
* Conduct an initial survey and determine which edible fruits are already in the market-place and/or available at nurseries
* Identify the potential commercial fruit species that have characteristics for high quality fruits and value-added products such as jams, sauces, essential oils and fragrances.
* Establish the genetic diversity within selected species
* Investigate the potential for micropropagation for selected species difficult to propagate by traditional methods.
* Explore the potential for application of biotechnologies (eg. cyropreservation, genotypic variation and genetic engineering) to selected species
* Establish links with interested growers, suppliers and Aboriginal communities to support the research & development of this new industry.
In order to determine which species have most potential and to develop a priority list for research, a questionnaire is being sent to people who grow or sell native fruits or their products. The information supplied is solely for research purposes.
If you would like to be involved with this exciting project, please contact:
Dr Rod Drew -
Ph: 07 3875 7292 or
Fax 07 3875 7656
City Farm Bushfood Aboretum
Brisbane readers of this magazine may be interested in visiting the Bushfoods Aboretum at Northey Street City Farm, corner Victoria & Northey Streets, Windsor (near the RNA Showgrounds). This planting contains about 200 specimens endemic to the region, including:
Most plants have been labelled for ease of identification. This farm is an excellent site for introducing city folk to bush tucker. John Wrench has put on his workshops and world famous feasts here (yes, City Farm has cooking facilities as well). Myself, and many others, have been able to teach local school kids about our rich native food resources.
The Farm is adjacent to Breakfast Creek. Despite severe modification of the waterway (clear-felling, realignment, channelisation, urban pollutants...) over the last 150 years, the colonising mangroves shelter an understorey of Warrigal Greens, in places. City Farmers have also been busy re-establishing the riparian rainforest that once grew here.
To date, over 600 trees have been planted. The Farm is open every day of the year - pick up a self-guiding brochure at the information booth, and read the interpretative signs. Everyone is welcome.
Regards Gavin Hardy, firstname.lastname@example.org
Fom Peter Luscombe - Nindethana Seed Service
Here at Nindethana, we have a substantial range of Acacia and other seed and also grow Acacias in plantation. Most of our plantations are for specific rehabilitation projects around southern WA or rare spp. production. However, we do have access to bulk seed and a large network of collectors across Australia. At present, we have the following in stock:
Seeds per gram approx.
Acacia victoriae 29 spg
A. sophorae 16spg
A. retinodes 52spg
A. aneura 60spg
A. longifolia 77spg
When buying from seed firms, people should ensure that if the seed is for human consumption - check whether it has been treated for insects or not. All sorts of chemicals are being used for controlling insects in storage and some of these are very nasty. I know of people using tomato dust in the past and that had DDT in it! Mostly, we use CO2 gas if seed shows signs of insect attack. That is the safest method I know of.
The other thing that I would be tempted to do, if the seed is for human consumption, would be to wash the seed in cool or luke warm water and rinse a couple of times to be sure - but dry it out straight afterwards! We use a plastic drying tunnel ie. a greenhouse without water added - that works well. The other thing to watch is seed quality. Most firms offer per kilo, but there is no quality standards and you don't know how much rubbish is in the sample. We've have had to clean as much as 40% of rubbish in the form of soil, rocks, leaf, pods, sticks, insects etc, out of seed samples.
It is important that people be aware of the possible dangers of other seed types in samples used for human consumption. Some species are toxic, especially Gastrolobiums! Always ask for purity (within 5% of actual) and seed counts per gram. Then you can determine value for money.
In season, most of those Acacias we have listed can be harvested in bulk, but orders need to be confirmed by Oct-Nov each year, latest. We can do Acacia longifolia in bulk, quite cheaply here because it has become an environmental weed near the coast (it is not native here). Seed would be clean & chemical free, so if anyone wants bulk pure A. longifolia for food, here we are and it would double as service to our local bush!
We usually use all the A. aneura in desert revegetation work on mine sites here in WA. Another good bushfood seed we have on hand at present, is Tecticornia arborea. I think it is from the Chenopod family (like Samphire, Bluebush, Saltbush etc). The seeds are crushed and made into a simple dough, baked and eaten. The native people from Central WA use it. If people are not familiar with seed recognition or are not confident that the seed they are buying is true to species, they should either double check with a reputable seed supplier, forestry or CSIRO. It is not worth the risk of preparing the wrong material as a food! It is also not worth the time, expense and effort growing the wrong plants.
PO Box 2121 Albany WA 6331
Ph: 0898 443 533
Fax: 0898 443 573
My name is Dee Murphy, and I am a white woman who is a botanist and archaeologist. Yarrawarra has employed me as a project officer since 1993. Yarrawarra was established in 1987 to promote Aboriginal culture, education and enterprise.
My first project was to design a bush tucker track through the local cultural landscape. The Corindi Beach Reserve, homeland to the local Gumbaingirr people, contains more than 250 plant species, and about half of these have traditional uses. Some trees also have detailed individual stories, such as scars for toe-holes or bark hut making. It is essential to consult with local Elders about stories and places that can be used to teach visitors. The track was designed to highlight the cultural landscape, winding through woodland, wetlands, heath and beach environments. Track making is still expanding, and several kilometres of walks are now available to the public.
I have continued to gather and interpret information, and plan and implement projects for the local Aboriginal community
My obsession with `bush tucker' started after I became lost in the bush as a teenager. I kept thinking that there was probably heaps of things all around me that I could have used to survive, which would have helped me to overcome the intense panic I experienced. Now in my forties, I have devoted a lot of effort to leaning all I can about people-plant interactions in Australia, and could probably survive in the wilds of north-eastern NSW (please don't lose me in the desert!) My interests are wider than just foods, and include all uses of Australian plants (such as medicines and basketry). I have a BA. and Master of Letters in archaeology and botany. I have co-authored a book published by NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service with an Ainewan woman, Cheryl Ahoy, titled `A preliminary investigation of Aboriginal values in the north east forests, NSW.' In this book we touched on the issues of bush food commercialisation, royalties, wild harvesting, employment and education (Ahoy and Murphy 1994).
I am privileged to work at Yarrawarra, as no two days are ever the same. It could be consulting, planning, training or implementing:
Our most recent project is construction of the Nuralamee Accommodation Centre, which will soon provide accommodation on-site for more than 70 visitors.
We invite you to come and see for yourselves. and cordially invite you to our Nuralamee Reconciliation Open Day, on 29th September 1999.
See you here!
What's Fruiting - or simply ready to eat:
Acacia aulacocarpa, Hickory wattle, Jun-Nov
Acacia colei, Wattle, September
Acacia cowleana, Wattle, September
Acacia dictyophleba, Wattle, Yr round
Acacia hemignosta, Wattle, September
Acacia holosericea, Wattle, Sep-Nov
Acacia papyrocarpa, Western myall, Dec-Feb, Jul-Sep
Acmena ingens, Red apple, May-Sep
Acmena smithii, Lilly pilly, Apr-Aug
Acronychia spp, Lemon, Coast or comment aspen - Aug-Dec
Alpinea caerulea, Native ginger, Aug-Oct
Apium prostratum, Sea celery, Yr round
Atherosperma moschatum, Southern sassafras, Yr round
Backhousia spp, Lemon, Curry and Cinnamon myrtle, Yr round
Brachychiton acerifolius, Flame tree, Feb-Aug
Capparis mitchellii, Wild orange, mpultjati, Sept-Jan
Carissa ovata/lanceolata, Konkerberry, Yr round
Carpobrotus modestus, Inland pigface, Yr round
Carpobrotus rossii, Coastal pigface, Yr round
Citrus australis, Wild Lime/Native orange/Round lime, Aug-Nov
Citrus glauca, Wild lime, Desert lemon, Spring/summer
Correa alba, Cape Bareen tea, Yr round
Corymbia citriodora, Lemon scented gum, Yr round
Dioscorea transversa, Native yam, Yr round
Discorea transversa, Yam, Yr Round
Enchylaena tomentosa, Saltbush, Sep-Mar
Exocarpus cupressiformis, Native cherry, Sep-Feb
Hibiscus diversifolius, Native hibiscus, Yr Round
Mentha australis, River mint, Yr round
Microceris lanceolata, Murnong, Native yam, Spring
Ocimum tenuiflorum, Wild thyme, Yr round
Pilidiostigma rhytispermum, Small leafed plum myrtle, Mar-Nov
Planchonella australis, Black apple, Sep-Oct
Pleiogynium timorense, Burdekin plum, Aut-Spring
Portulaca spp, Pigweed, Munyeroo, Portulaca, Pig face, Yr round
Prostanthera incisa, Cut leaf mint, Native mint, Yr round
Prostanthera rotundifolia, Native mint, Mint bush, Yr round
Psychotria loniceroides, Psychotria, Mar-Jul
Santalum acuminatum, Sweet quandong, Sep-Oct
Santalum spicatum, , Sep-Dec
Solanum centrale, Akudjura (bush tomato, desert raisin), Jul-Aug
Syzygium oleosum, Blue lilly pilly, Win-Spring
Tetragonia tetragonoides, Warrigal greens, Yr round
Viola hederacea, Native violet, Yr Round
Andrew Pengelly `Stanley' Golden Hwy. Merriwa NSW 2329.
Ph/fax 02 65485189
Welcome to the Native Herb Forum and the first edition of the "Update" for 1999.
For newcomers to the NHF, our aims and objectives are listed at the end of this newsletter, along with a reference book list that appeared in the previous edition. Any additions to the list are welcome.
The NHF is back online again with a new website address:
Antifungal compound in Tasmannia (mountain pepper).
Researchers at the University of California recently conducted in vitro investigations into the antifungal activity of polygodial, a sesquiterpene aldehyde responsible for the spicy flavour of our mountain pepper bush leaves and fruit (Tasmannia spp.). Polygodial was originally isolated from Polygonum hydropiper, an introduced weed found along creeks and rivers and known locally as `smartweed'. It is also found in the New Zealand pepper tree Pseudowintera colorata - in the same family (Winteraceae) as Tasmannia. The New Zealand species has previously been investigated for its antifungal activity and is an ingredient in the proprietory cream known as `Kolorex'.
In the present study polygodial showed strong fungicidal activity against Candida albicans, C. utilis and C. krusei as well as two other yeast-like species - Cryptococcus neoformans and Saccharomyces cervisiae. Three strains of the dermatophyte fungi Trichophyton spp., responsible for tinea and ringworm, were also highly susceptible to polygodial. Other species tested however were not susceptible. Pharmacokinetic studies based on growing and non-growing Candida albicans revealed polygodial's fungicidal activity was more rapid than that of amphoteric B - a standard antifungal, and unlike amphoterin B polygodial showed no haemolytic effects on sheep blood. The authors conclude polygodial may have potential as an antifungal agent, given its' potency and relatively wide spectrum against pathogens, non-haemolytic activity and unique mode of action. This research gives support to the use of Tasmannia as an antifungal agent against local fungal infections such as thrush, ringworm and tinea, as well as for internal Candidiasis - though the latter is more speculative given these studies are in vitro.
Scaevola spinescens - Prickly fanflower
Scaevola spinescens is a common shrub of inland Australia, distinguished by its dwarf spinescent branchlets and yellowish-white one-sided flowers borne on short slender stalks in the leaf axils.
The fanflower is a traditional Aboriginal medicine, root decoctions having been used for stomach ache and urinary problems, while decoction of broken stems are purported to cure skin rashes, boils and sores. It has attracted attention in recent years as a potential cancer remedy, and for many years the Western Australian government made an extract of the plant available to terminally
ill cancer patients. Despite some apparently positive results the scheme was stopped. Meanwhile the herb has been subjected to chemical studies and screened for antiviral activity. The main active constituents appear to be a group of triterpenoids including betulin, lupeol, xanthyletin, squalene, taraxerol and lupeol acetate. Preliminary investigations suggest these constituents have antiviral, immunostimulant, anti gastric-secretory and possible antitumor activity.
There are a number of ethical issues surrounding this plant, and until and unless they are resolved we could not recommend further scientific or clinical investigations. I refer to the need to respect the knowledge of traditional healers and their Intellectual Property Rights as well as the potential for endangering the species existence by wholesale harvest in hope of producing the elusive "cure" for cancer.
Many thanks go to Petra Henninger for providing most of this information
Native Herb Forum - Objectives
1. To positively influence the clinical use of Australian indigenous herbs.
2. To ensure ongoing supplies by exploring the potential of native herbs for cultivation
`Stanley' Golden Hwy. Merriwa NSW 2329.
Ph/fax 02 65485189.