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Issue 12

Pick of the 'List' - 

conversations taken from the online bushfood discussion group.

The bushfood discussion group on the net has gone in fits and starts - lots of traffic one week, very little the next. However, there have been some fascinating topics bandied back and forth. In each issue, I'll bring you snippets from the list. The Ed. 

Emu Apple - Owenia acidula... We have collected a hatful of emu apple (Owenia acidula) seeds. Birds have eaten the flesh. I would like to know how to get the seed out and germinate it. There are some old split fruits beneath the tree but I did not know whether the seed in them would be viable after 12 months of laying at the foot of the tree. We have plenty of emu apples on the red ridge around the house so soil should not be a problem, just want to remake the landscape - put in native softwoods instead of the parasitic brigalow trees that died out in the drought. Also lots of bush oranges regrowing but nearly impossible to collect the fruit as the birds clean it up before it ripens. David Caswell

Emu Apples are notoriously difficult to germinate unless the seed has been through the stomach of a bird eg emu, cassowary, goose. It sounds as though yours might have. Would try planting as is with compost/manure (to simulate droppings) - would also try the ones already split if contents still present. They are a large single seed, so you don't need to get anything out. Owenia acidula are part of the natural vegetation of Brigalow and Softwood Scrubs. They are edible, fleshy, look great. Taste..needs some selection, shall we say? Probably varies enormously among individuals. Lenore 

Just a suggestion on Owenia. These seeds are notoriously hard to germinate, though I think they have a long viability. A method which was developed in Israel (Yossi Mizrahi) which worked on Mongongo nuts from arid Africa, also very difficult to germinate, was to crack the shell of the nut and expose the kernel to a stream of ethylene gas for 3 minutes. Over 90% germination was obtained. Ethyrel, a chemical used by the orchardists to cause fruit to ripen evenly, is also supposed to work. David Noel 

I have also heard of Owenia propagation through root cuttings which is apparently a lot easier than germinating seeds. I am very keen to try seed germination, possibly feeding some Emus at the local zoo. Anybody actually tried this? Apart from the Brigalow belt, I was recently surprised to find them growing close to the coast in Townsville. 1840's shipwreck victim James Morrill spoke about them as being regularly eaten by Aborigines in the Burdekin - Townsville area. Lenore Lindsay 

A hint for germinating Owenia (originally from Neil Hoy, I think): Pack a polystyrene box with "hot" (active) compost and plant the oldest seed you can find. When there is a distinct smell of onions, turn the box upside down and carefully remove the compost from what was the bottom until you reach the first roots, then carefully pick out the germinated seed and pot up. Lenore 



Thanks Bede - I tried it and got a page on the Theory of Conductivity - must have transposed a S with an &% -- Sammy

Please check the spp names 

Nuts and Crackers. 

We have the Sea almond (Terminalia catappa) and the Atherton almond (Athertonia diversifolia) which I believe is an axe job to open. I'm not sure if the Terminalia is a drupe - perhaps someone out there knows. There is almost a cult amongst people who know of these nuts but the industry doesn't seem to have cottoned on yet.???????? As to cracking -- somewhere recently someone wrote or emailed me that macadamias could be opened by using a standard 'tin squasher' - the roller things now available for people who flatten their tin cans for recycling. I'm on the lookout for this device and will try it out. Meanwhile my welder mate reckons he's 'got an idea' on the bunya -- I'll tell you what it is when he tells me! In relation to your comments about Macadamia crackers, leaf shredders etc. how about a device to open the Sea Almond (Terminalia catappa)? This is an extremely common tree in tropical areas and could easily be planted in plantations. Most people are unaware that the large fruit contains an edible nut and I have ute-loads being taken to the local rubbish dump. The nut, as far as I am concerned, is superior to the almond in quality, as well as the fact that most Almonds are imported into Australia (I think.) The hassle is to open the things. I collect the dried fruit, cut off the spongy wings with secateurs and then hit the fruit side-on with a hammer, causing the fruit to open up and reveal the undamaged nut. 

An ideal processing machine would sort the fruit according to size, run them between two blades to cut the wings off, then turn the fruit on its side to run between two rollers. The seeds may then have to be removed and graded by hand but someone may have other ideas. This is an easily marketed bush food just waiting for someone to come up with the harvesting and processing machinery. 

Greg Calvert

They're a drupe just like almonds aren't they? - I'm assuming you could use whatever contraption is currently used to remove almond kernels then?? - (or adapt an almond kernel remover thingy to suit). Is the flesh edible too, Greg? (as with other Terminalia spp) 

Peter L

I must say, I agree with Greg with regards to the marketability of Terminalia catappa. They are a readily available resource that most Councils would be happy to have someone remove the seeds from the ground in parks etc in Northern Australia because they are a problem when mowing etc and are time consuming to remove for the council. They have a higher nutritional value than most imported Almonds, on the average about 2987 kj/100g of energy. They could be made into Almond pastes or roasted whole fruit etc. It's just a matter of extracting the kernel from the shell. 

Top End Species.

Tarun Williams from the NT has asked about top end species -- does anyone have any ideas over and above the Kakadu plum, Morinda citrifolia, Kurrajong, Pouteria spp., Sterculia quadrifida, Exocarpus, Ocimum tenuflorium and Acacia spp? (actually, looking at the list, I wouldn't mind having that choice!)


A great bushfood of the Northern Territory and Cape York is the Lady Apple (Syzygium suborbiculare). This is a dry country tree with a lignotuber (underground storage organ that makes Eucalyptus fire resistant). The fruit are large, up to apple size on some trees with a large stone. The fruit are crisp and tart. There is a hybrid known between this and the White Apple (S forte subsp. forte). While the hybrid seems to have some problems with root strength, the fruit are huge and taste like dried apricots. This is a bushfood for which no further selection of forms is necessary. I don't know why I can't just go to a fruit store and buy a kilo of Lady Apples? Anybody tried growing, cooking or marketing this plant? Other species of Terminalia (such as T. Carpentariae, T. Grandiflora, T. latipes, T. platyphylla). Dioscorea sativa, Antidesma ghaesemblilla, Vitex gladrata, Flueggea virosa, Slyzygium suborbiculare, Nymphaea --- depends to some degree on where she lives and what people are prepared to eat.

Peter R Lister

Dangerous  (Bushfood) Drivers...

or - Road Gaze Replaces Road Rage

The Ed. 

I used to be a reasonably good driver; kept to my own side of the road, habitually owned cars which couldn't break the speed limit down hill with a tail wind, had no demerit points against my licence, you know the sort. I am now a dangerous driver, prone to rubber necking like a tourist in both city and country. 

Roadside plants were once a blurred crowd of strangers to me, an anonymous backdrop to the bitumen and little more. They are now an intricate and diverse crowd of individuals, some of whom I'm familiar with and some I've yet to meet. 

Bumper to bumper and 100k/hour on a freeway is no time to be swivelling for a closer look at what may well be a Syzgium luehmanni. The drivers behind don't seem to share my interest. Some are so thoughtless as to honk at my suddenly reckless wandering over the line. 

The city is no better. For some reason, I never spot the potential bit of bushfood until the red light has turned green. I personally get grumpy with people who don't move when the lights change but this is different. This is important. 

Bushfood spotting in the city is an invigorating and challenging pastime, little understood by those who see only a shrub when you and I know perfectly well we've finally spotted Achronychia oblongifolia. Or we think we have. 

Inevitably these treasures show themselves on a busy highway with no parking zone and no turnoffs for the next 5 kilometres. My habitually late arrivals have become later of late, but more fulfilling. 

'Sorry I'm late - you'll never believe who I saw down Hamilton Road.' 

More often than not, the people I've kept waiting don't believe what I saw, nor do they really care. 

My one attempt to convert an impatient appointment left waiting was spectacularly unsuccessful. Native tamarind were fruiting at the time, their cheeky orange flesh bursting out of the papery husk. I had a pocket-full to authenticate my excuse and pulled them out, "These are beautiful. Specially on a hot day.' The impatient appointment plucked one from my hand and popped it into his mouth, which immediately constricted like a string purse pulled tight. 'Ah, they're a little tart..' I tried but this was a little like warning a guest the chillies were hot after the meal. His eyes were watering and he was looking for a polite place in which to spit. 'Don't waste the seed!' I yelped but the pulpy mess was already deposited in his handkerchief and I didn't have the nerve to ask if I could sort through it. Whenever this friend now sees me, a bemused and unbelieving look comes over his face. 'You actually eat that stuff?' he will ask. I've given up apologising and have suggested he try Lemon aspen if he wants a real treat. He probably won't. If I were a real pal, I would have listed the streets in Brisbane which have bushfood fruiting right now but I have too much concern for your safety. I'll let you know where they are when the fruiting season's over. Safe driving - and happy spotting.

The Ed

Index 12

From the Editor



Warrigal green trials

Kidney Wallum

More on Davidsonia

Bushfoods and Farm Forestry


Sapphire Coast Project

Griffith Uni

Tasting Australia

More On Warrigal Greens

The People of Yarrawarra Aboriginal Corp

AQIA Conference

Somewhat useful pages

Pick of the list

Our Future, Our Culture

Bush Dust - The Spicy Tasmanian

Tales from a Wild, Wild Harvest

Out West, Wild Lime, Wheat

From the Executive Summary of "Our Future, Our Culture"

Report on Australian Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights

The report was undertaken to map the rights Indigenous people want to their Cultural Heritage and to analyse the laws and policies that affect their ability to realise these rights. Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property rights refers to Indigenous Australians' rights to the their heritage. Heritage includes scientific, agricultural , technological and ecological knowledge (including cultigens, medicines and sustainable use of flora and fauna)....and documentation of Indigenous peoples' heritage in all forms of media (including scientific, ethnographic research reports, papers, books and films. The commercial value of this heritage is acknowledged in the rural sector via bushfoods and traditional medicines. There has been a turnaround recently in legislation which has seen the development of agreements and the restoration of hunting and gathering and fishing rights in some States and Territories. 

Regarding the Patents Act and the Plant Breeders Rights Acts, it recommends enactment of a specific Act which provides protection for all Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property or at least amendment to the Acts to deny patents for any element of Indigenous heritage without adequate documentation of the prior free and informed consent of the Indigenous owners to an arrangement for the sharing of ownership, control, use and benefits. 

It also suggests that rights granted should not interfere with the traditional and customary use of cultural material. 

The report asks whether it is feasible to amend the Acts to allow Indigenous Australians to register their interest or to patent Indigenous knowledge notwithstanding that there is prior publication and to allow secrecy of these processes so that people are not forced to disclose details of the remedy. It also suggests that a new class of proprietary rights should be considered which ensure that Indigenous people are informed of patent applications or plant breeders rights applications that include Indigenous material or relate to Indigenous species; ensure the prior informed consent to use such material and species has been obtained and that Indigenous people have the right to negotiate the types of use permitted and to share in any economic benefits that might accrue (these, where possible be in the form of written agreements). 

Specific legislation suggested includes formation of a system which allows members to negotiate fees and collect royalties at a regional level. Develop protocols on acceptable and prohibited use. This is necessarily a very brief look at this large (300 + page) very thorough and very thoughtful report. Although I have some questions over it portions of it (for instance, the suggestion that appropriate groups be approached for consent to use species - this could create confusion when more than one group has traditional rights through usage) and the suggestion of regional (voluntary) collection of royalties or fees, on the whole, it is a very productive document - and well overdue. The ed.


Bush Dust - The Spicy Tasmanian

Peppermint Ridge - PO Box 459 Huonville, Tas 7109. Ph: 03 6266 4373

Judi Griggs of Peppermint Ridge in Huonville, Tasmania, has brought out a mouth watering and attractive product called 'Bush Dust'.

The 'sprinkle was created by her sister, Wendy Griggs, an executive chef who loves using native hush foods in cooking and goes out of her way to promote their use. Bush Dust is a mixture macadamia nuts, bush tomatoes, Tasmanian native pepper, herbs and spices. Best served by dipping bread in olive oil and then in the bush dust. Excellent with fish, chicken, potato, cheese etc.

Being an obsessive fan of the bush tomato, I sampled their product with great delight. Its distinctive yet subtle flavour is so adaptable that I have been adding it to just about anything that isn't sweet! I have had great luck with a potato soup dusted with the dust, cheese, a tomato and 'dust' sandwich, dust and ranch style salad dressing and stir fried tofu. The 80g jar, which looked like a year's supply, is dwindling fast! Peppermint Ridge has been established for 12 months. Bush Dust is available at gourmet delicatessens and selected tourist outlets throughout Tasmania as well as by mail order.

Peppermint Ridge also make biscuits incorporating Tasmanian native pepper and wattle seed. As well as their Peppermint Ridge range of bushfood, they also make a range of apple jams, jellies and chutney called a4 apple - as both the girls grew up on an apple orchard at Lucaston in the Huon Valley. They use traditional family recipes and no artificial additives. They have incorporated Lemon myrtle with Apple jelly and Tasmanian native pepper in their spiced apple chutney.