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Issue 17

The Witjuti Column  Autumn 


Graeme White and Veronica Cougan

Graeme and Veronica run the 'Witjuti Grub Bushfood Nursery in Kenilworth, SE Qld. This article first appeared in the 'Mary Valley Voice'.

Exotic citrus species were first introduced into Australia in 1788 by members of the First Fleet. But it wasn't for another 100 years that colonial botanists had `discovered' that there were six species of native citrus endemic to Australia. Aborigines have traditionally included native citrus fruit as part of their diet. However by the mid 19th century European settlers had recognised their potential and were using the strange fruit to make jams, cordials and desserts.

Of the six endemic citrus species, five occur only in the rainforests of the east coast. The sixth, Eremocitrus glauca the desert lime is endemic to the semiarid regions of Eastern Australia.

The five rainforest species were originally classified as Citrus then reclassified as Microcitrus due to the relatively small size of their flowers and fruit. But recently they were changed back to Citrus due to the fact that no two botanists can agree with each other for more than five minutes.

Of the five rainforest species, two naturally occur in south east Queensland. These are the Finger lime, Citrus australasica and our local round lime also known as the Gympie lime, Citrus australis or Dooja by the Aborigines.

The Finger lime is found in the wild from Northern New South Wales to Mt Tamborine. The fruit is unique in the Citrus family because it is finger shaped, or 'Cylindric-fusifonn' if you are one of those botanists. The pulp of the fruit, which may vary in colour from green to pale pink through to crimson, has the unique characteristic of separate juice vesicles which have the appearance of caviar. When eaten these vesicles burst pleasantly at slight pressure from the teeth to provide a welcome refreshing sensation on the tongue.

The Gympie lime is the most vigorous of the native citrus, growing to a height of 9 to 18 metres in the rainforest or to about 5 metres in cultivation. This species flowers in spring and in March/April bears golf ball sized fruit with rough thick skin. The fruit contains a pleasantly acid juice similar to the Finger lime, but does not have the round pulp vesicles or variations in colour.

The Gympie lime will develop into a well shaped compact tree in your bushfood garden, whereas the Finger lime grows to a dense spiny shrub with enormous character. Both species will adapt to a wide range of soil types and will fruit well in full shade, but in general they will produce a more prolific crop in full sun.

Growth of trees should be encouraged in spring, not autumn, by regular applications of an organic fertiliser in late winter and spring which will also minimise insect pest predation. For optimum fruit set water regularly from late winter through summer.

Take a walk through a rainforest gully in the Gympie area, along the edge where the rainforest meets the eucalypts and there you may be fortunate enough to find the Gympie lime growing. Look for the fallen fruit on the forest floor.

Our indigenous foods, while sometimes reminiscent of European foods, have their own particular characteristics that we need to learn to accept and value.

Opposite is a simple but delicious recipe to introduce you to the delights of the wild lime.

Should you require more information or bushfood plants, we have both native limes in stock; feel free to contact us at the Nursery on 07 54460264. Happy foraging, Graeme and Veronica.


Recipe: Wild lime, ginger & coriander butter

2 1/2 cups (500g) unsalted butter at room temperature

1 whole Dooja lime, pureed and strained

2 teaspoons freshly minced ginger

610 sprigs coriander, chopped (to taste)

A pinch of salt Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until a smooth and silky butter is formed. The butter will be fairly loose at this stage, so press into a serving bowl and refrigerate until it firms up.

This butter is great at barbecues over freshly grilled chicken breast or fish. Both the Gympie and Finger lime have the potential to be substituted for the exotic lime in any recipe.

Some species from the Witjuti Grub Bushfood Nursery:

(You can contact the nursery on 07 5446 0264)

Antidesma erostre          Wild current (cutting grown)

Austromyrtus dulcis       Midyim berry

Backhousia anisata       Aniseed myrtle

Backhousia citriodora   Lemon scented myrtle

Citrus australasica         Finger lime

Citrus australis   Round (Gympie) lime

Curcuma australasica     Native tumeric

Davidsonia spp  Davidson plum

Dianella caerulea            Paroo lily

Diploglottis campbellii   Small leaf tamarind 

Diploglottis cunninghamii Native tamarind 

Diploglottis diphyllostegia Wild tamarind

Elaeagnus triflora           Mllaa Millaa

Eugenia reinwardtiana   Beach cherry

Eupomatia laurina         Bolwarra

Mentha saturoides         Native mint

Mimusops elengi            Tanjong tree

Planchonella australis    Black apple

Pleiogynium timorense   Burdekin plum

Podocarpus elatus         Plum pine

Podocarpus spinulosa    Native damson

Sterculia quadrifida       Peantu tree

Syzygium leuhmannii      Riberry

Syzygium oleosum         Blue cherry

Medicinal Herbs Markets


The following was received by the magazine:

Dear Sammy.

I am currently investigating the market for organically grown native medicinal herbs.

I would appreciate any information you can give me in relation to herbs which you feel have a commercial application and market requirements of same.

Thanks for your time.

Sheena Simpson

21 Lydia St, Wooloowin Qld 4030, 07 3858 1122



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