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Issue 18


My thanks to those who have, once again,

contributed to the

magazine. Without your words, pictures and

experience, it wouldn't happen.


Index: 18

From the Editor


Pharmaceutical properties of Qld Rainforest plants

Sunrise lime dieback

Toxicity results - 'all clear' 

North Coast Co-op 

Aboriginal use of Moreton Bay Chestnut 

Growth patterns in bushfoods

Lesser known species

Peak Body

Geijera sp

Back to the future

Native bees

Vale Denise Reason

Book Reviews


Dangerous Bush Tucker


Germination Trials

Emerging crops


(I just had to misspell that so I could correct it in the next oops box!)

From the Editor

Postage and plastic...

Over the last 12 months, postage costs for the magazine have risen frighteningly. I don't know whether this is GST, overall price rises or simply the result of new Print Post schedules. However, these rises have focused my mind on the magazine and how to distribute it economically. Thus, from this issue onwards, the mag will be available on CD. Soon, I hope, it will also be available `on line'. This will allow me to distribute it widely very economically.

So - I would ask all of my readers who are on email to send me a short note indicating whether you'd be happy with the CD (or on line) or if you want to continue receiving hard copy.

CD/On line has some advantages - full colour, rapid distribution (no printer involved), searchable indexes etc.

From Issue 19, I would like to be distributing the mag electronically wherever possible - so let me know!

If you're interested in receiving the mag on line or CD, email me at:


And while on the subject - some of you have had to wait quite some time for delivery of your mag. when you subscribe - I have found out from the Post Office that they hold back `individual' mags I post until they have a big pile of them - this is something to do with the bulk mailing rate. My apologies - not much I can do about this.

Rural Industries Research & Development Corp Grants Scheme: Native Foods

In February this year, RIRDC held an extraordinary workshop which resulted in the Draft R&D Plan for 2001-2005. This Draft has been

available for perusal at http://www.rirdc.gov.au

Comment has been invited and should be sent to Max Bourke (mbourke@ruralfunds.com.au) at RIRDC, as soon as possible so that further important research can proceed.



Diemen Pepper

Issue 15 of the magazine - page 32. Thanks for the plug for our Tapas Oil. One small thing which might frustrate people trying to get in touch: our email server is tassie.net.au, two `s's. Best regards, Chris, Diemen Pepper



Dear Sammy

Re: Australian Native Citrus  

I receive many enquires from overseas each year for the supply of our native citrus seed. This is a response I sent to one such enquirer. 


Erika Birmingham 

Byron Bay Native Produce PO Box 232 Bangalow NSW 2479 Ph/Fax: (02)6687 1087 

Australian Native Citrus

Are we giving away our natural heritage? The Australian native citrus industry is still in its early stages of infancy here in Australia. Although colonial botanists advised in the 1880's that our native citrus species had commercial potential, it is only in the last few years that native citrus varieties have been bred as scion in their own right, for commercialisation. 

The Commonwealth Scientific Research Organisation (CSIRO) has been crossing Australian native citrus species with exotic Citrus since the early 1980's, for breeding new rootstocks for Australian conditions. It was not until 1989, when Dr Steve Sykes of CSIRO began to experiment with hybrid varieties, that he recognised the potential of fruit such as the Australian Blood lime, as "a creative addition to the citrus world" and put forward these varieties for commercial experimentation and development. Seeds of four species of Australian native citrus were collected by an American scientist in 1976, with the aid of Queensland Department of Primary Industries and the NSW Department of Agriculture. 

These were exported to the United States of America, where they were planted in arboretums. The QDPI also exported native citrus seed into Europe as recently as 1980 and trees remain there in arboretums.Byron Bay Native Produce has been approached on many occasions by both Australian government institutes and international plant breeders, requesting a supply of Citrus australasica seed for export. On each occasion, the offer was declined. As bushfood growers in Australia, we have the opportunity to commercialise some of our unique Australian native foods for the first time. In doing so, we are creating the basis of an ecologically sustainable industry, which has a uniquely Australian image and an enormous future potential for export. However, countries such as Israel and the USA are only too keen to develop our native citrus species overseas. Are we going to "throw out the baby with the bath water"? 

We have a valuable genetic resource in Australian of six native citrus species in the wild. Some of these species are now the subject of commercial research and development, while other species remain virtually unknown. The Humpty Doo, or Kakadu lime (Citrus gracilis) was only described as recently as 1998 by Prof. D.J. Mabberley. 

However, there is still an vast need for our own native citrus industry to be developed here, in Australia.

The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation have been slow to fund Australian native foods research, with past funding focusing mainly on feasibility studies and marketing plans for the industry. The R&D of native citrus species per se for the Australian native foods industry has yet to receive funding. We need to act now and lobby funding bodies to prioritise R&D of this unique genetic resource before it is too late and we lose this industry offshore. (1) 

Let's look briefly at the history of exporting Australian industries off shore: the Australian Wildflower Industry has long been established in Israel. The Macadamia Industry was established in Hawaii in the 1880's, when we exported our own native "bush nut" to the USA. The American varieties were bred from a limited genetic base and exported back to Australia, but were unsuited to our own conditions. 

The Macadamia tetraphylla is now classified as endangered under the NSW NPWS Threatened Species Act 1995 and an extremely limited genetic resource remains in the wild for future breeding purposes. Are we going to allow the same thing to happen to our native citrus industry? Two species of Australian native citrus (Citrus inodora and Citrus garrawayae) are now classified as rare in the wild and are protected under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992. Plant recovery programs for these species should be prioritised to protect further loss of biodiversity of these species in the wild.

Otherwise, we will lose this valuable resource for future breeding purposes. 

As Bushfood growers, we have not only the opportunity to pioneer our own native citrus industry here in Australia, but also the ability to protect our biodiversity. The only native citrus varieties which have currently been protected by Plant Breeders Rights in Australia, are hybrid native citrus varieties (ie. those which have been crossed with exotic citrus varieties) such as the Australian Blood lime and Australian Sunrise lime and a true variety of pigmented Finger lime, `Rainforest Pearl'. Native citrus seed should be collected from throughout the natural distribution of all species, for ex situ conservation here in Australia, for future breeding purposes. With this wide genetic resource base available to us, we could have endless possibilities to develop a profitable and ethical native citrus industry within Australia. Native citrus varieties (not seed) could then be exported overseas for long term financial gain, as opposed to the short term gain to be made from the sale of a few seed. (2) The development of the native citrus industry within Australia has huge potential to create not only a viable new horticultural industry, but also employment. 

If we continue the trend of exporting our native citrus species (as well as other Australian native foods) overseas to plant breeders/enthusiasts for short term gain, before we have developed our own industry here in Australia, aren't we our giving away our natural heritage? 

(1) See RIRDC web site for information on the current RIRDC draft revision of the Native Foods R&D Plan: http://www.rirdc.gov.au/pub/nativefoods.html 

(2) See web site for Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, for strict guidelines regarding the export of Australian plants and plant products: 

www.affa.gov.au/ (link broken)

Erika Birmingham, 2001

To the Bushfoods newsgroup. 

Subject: Seed  

I have read with interest the recent discussion regarding the distribution of seeds of the Australian native citrus varieties. These varieties have been studied outside Australia for much longer than is suggested. Several examples were certainly growing in USA around 1920 (see The Citrus Industry, Vol.1). By now they are freely available from a selection of nurseries in the USA and from at least two nurseries that I know in continental Europe. 

As Erika states, they are growing in botanic gardens and arboreta. They are also in several specialist citrus germplasm collections, such as those in Corsica (INRA, France), Valencia (IVIA, Spain) and Riverside, California (USDA, USA). Thus, any foreign commercial citrus company already has access to these sources should they wish to grow them.

In the UK, and no doubt other countries, they are many groups of private growers who have become specialists in certain groups of plants. For example, there are active groups of Australian Native Plant growers and of citrus fruits. (I myself have a thriving collection of the Australian citrus.) Now, some might consider these people to be the `stamp collectors' of the plant world - they like to collect the most unusual varieties. On the other hand, similar people have been the only ones to preserve certain rare plant varieties that would otherwise have been lost to cultivation forever. 

The problem for any private grower wanting examples of the Australian citrus is the difficulty of importing plants from other countries. There are now strict regulations in place between and within the EEC, USA and Australia, which prevent the importation of plants in case they harbour pests and diseases which might damage commercial citrus-growing interests. This blanket prohibition even applies to countries such as the UK and Germany, where the climate ensures that commercial citrus growing would be impossible. 

The citrus germplasm organisations do have seed which can be freely exported, but they are reluctant to deal with individuals rather than research organisations. So, we come to the requests of people like Jan from Germany, who contact the bushfoods newsgroup or growers like Erika Birmingham. What harm would it do to send them a few seeds of the Australian citrus? 

They are not the people who are going to exploit the plants commercial potential. Indeed, is it not in the interests of the preservation of bio-diversity to send them seed so that some plants are grown in remote places? Erika herself states that some types are threatened in their native habitat. 

Moreover, perhaps sending these individuals a few seeds would in a way `shut them up' so reducing the likelihood of commercial growers being alerted to these plants possible potential. 

Finally, I think the successful Australian commercialisation of native bushfoods is in your own hands. But in the long run you can't stop overseas growers also exploiting these plants if they wish to do so. Indeed, I don't think you have the moral right to try and prevent this happening. Plants belong to the World not one country. If you think otherwise, please never eat any more Australian-grown oranges, apples, grapes, potatoes, corn..... and so on. Nothing for you from now on but imported foreign foods from their original habitat please! Plus, of-course, plenty of native bushfoods! Best wishes to all growers of Australian plants - wherever they live. 

Mike Saalfeld mike@saalfelds.freeserve.co.uk 

Seed from Aus native species I'm sure I'm not the only Backhousia citriodora grower/producer who has received queries about the availability of seed for overseas propagation.

I get some interesting responses when I decline to provide. Anecdotally, I'm led to believe that B.cit. seed has/is being sent/taken overseas. 

Regards, Dennis Archer, www.cooloola.org.au/toona-oils

Dear Dennis and List I also get some interesting responses when I decline to provide seed of Australian native hibiscus. 

Regards Colleen Keena Brisbane Valley, Qld

And this may have been what started it all...

Hello to all members of this list, my name is Jan from Hannover, Germany. at first forgive my terrible English. I am a big fan of citrus plants and collect some. Since some months I try to get some seeds of the Australian citrus-species without success. I don´t know if someone of you sell seeds of microcitrus and eremocitrus but if you do I would be very interested in buying seeds/fruits of the following plants: 

  • (Micro)citrus australasica var. sanguinea 

  • (Micro)citrus australasica 

  • (Micro)citrus australis 

  • (Micro)citrus garrawayae 

  • (Micro)citrus inodora 

  • (Micro)citrus maideniana 

  • (Micro)citrus warburgiana and Eremocitrus glauca

many regards, Jan


Davidson Plums de-seeded $12.00kg 

Rosellas $7.00kg 

Desert Limes $12.00 kg 

Freight is additional.  

Contact: Bushfoods of Australia, PO Box 55 Bangalow NSW 2479. Ph: 02 6687 1005 

Fax: 02 6687 1358 

Email: bushfoods@anfm.com.au  

Pharmaceutical Properties Of Some S.E Queensland Rainforest Plants

Dr Merv Hegarty Reprinted from the Brisbane Rainforest Action & Information Network

Dr. Merv Hegarty has 40 years experience as a plant chemist with CSIRO in tropical crops and pastures, advising on the toxicology of plants. Dr. Hegarty now runs a consultancy (Plantchem) with his wife, Dr. Elwyn Hegarty, (a botanist, specialising in vines and rainforest ecology) which advises on the use of native plants in `bush tucker' and pharmaceutical products. 

Compounds in plants can be considered as primary or secondary. Primary compounds, such as proteins, fats and oils are essential to the physical structure and workings of the plant. Secondary compounds are not common to all plants and are not essential for the life of the plant. 

Indeed, it was originally thought that alkaloids found in bark were waste products. Now they are recognised as playing important roles in the ecology of the plant, such as its defence or insect attraction. These compounds are generally small molecules, especially when compared to proteins and carbohydrates. The most potent perfumes, insecticides, flavours and poisons can be found amongst them. 

Castanospermum australe - Black Bean The compound Castanospermine is an alkaloid extracted from the seed of the Black Bean tree. It is found in all parts of the Black Bean tree but the content of the seed is especially high. It is easy to extract the alkaloid from the seed, as it is water soluble - the aboriginal people found this out a long time ago. The compound inhibits the actions of the enzyme that breaks down the sugar, glucose. The molecule has been found to affect the workings of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus by preventing the `docking' of the virus's glycoproteins to human lymphocytes. Two years ago the first clinical trials were held but pharmaceutical companies later dropped castanospermine to concentrate on `cocktails' including the compound AZT. Who knows when/if castanospermine will be resurrected? A different isomer (molecule with same components but different shape) is being used in research against nematodes. In New Zealand researchers are using castanospermine as the starting point from which to develop other compounds. A possible use is in improving tissue grafting (because of the way in which it affects `docking' to sites) in surgery. 

Swainsona greyana - Hairy Darling Pea The molecule Swainsonine prevents the action of the enzyme that breaks down the sugar manose. Overseas this compound is being tested for its anti-tumour properties. Duboisia sp. - Corkwood Although there are plantations of Duboisia around Proston, with Queensland producing 50-70% of the world's supply, most extraction occurs overseas. Hyoscyamine is used in optometry to dilate pupils. Hyoscine is used as a muscle relaxant and as a transdermal patch to treat motion sickness. A derivative of the compound is used to treat gastric disorders. At the University of Queensland research on Duboisia hybrids, to produce uniform material, is being undertaken. 

Bursaria spinosa - Blackthorn From this unassuming plant, the water-soluble compound escolin is easy to isolate. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties but is a low value pharmaceutical. It can absorb Ultraviolet light and has therefore been used in sunscreen creams. It has also been used to treat dermatitis. Sarcomelicope This plant contains a water-insoluble alkaloid. A laboratory in the US is looking at its anti-cancer potential. Advances in technology now allow sites in the body to be modelled and the shape of the molecule required to do a particular job to be deduced. Molecules of these shapes/types can then be searched for in plants that are known to contain these types of compounds. 

Previously many plants were looked at, all manners of compounds extracted and identified and all manners of uses found for them, with a golden age of discovery during the war years. With the new technology there is less scope for spin-offs and the most high profile diseases (cancer and HIV aids) are most likely to benefit. 

Many thanks to Dr. Hegarty for his interesting (and as that terrible punster Jim Johnston said, `eye-opening') talk.


Flamin' Roo in Melbourne

From `The Age' Rod Short, who has owned and run the Flamin' Bull Bush Tucker Restaurant in Warragul (Victoria), has now opened the Flamin' Bull in Lygon St, Melbourne. The menu is written in Wurundjeri and 75% of staff will be Koori. The menu features bush damper, kangaroo tail soup, Ganal river eel, emu and possum pie. Native Citrus

From `Qld Country Life', Jan 2001 The first commercial harvest of three varieties of native lime (product of CSIRO and ANPI) has been evaluated in South Australia. There are now over 16,000 of these native lime trees planted thoughout citrus growing areas. Bunyas Bounce in

From the `Courier Mail' Chef Rex Parsons of Rosellas restaurant in the Bunya Mountains (SE Qld) says there are hundreds of tonnes of Bunyas being wasted each year. Meanwhile, he is using more than ten tonnes of Bunya a year in his restaurant. He is hoping for seed funding to develop a machine to split the nuts. Conferences Held this year: Inaugral National Organics Conference (27-28 August - RIRDC) Indigenous Plant Use Forum (26-29 June - National Research Foundation) Herbs, Native Foods and Essential Oils (16-18 August -RIRDC, Lismore Unlimited & NSW Ag) AQIA (Australian Quandong Industry Association) Conference 2001 (August 25-26 -AQIA)


The Quandong

Australia's Premier Native Fruit

by Dr Elizabeth Gordon-Mills This publication is a comprehensive summary of the literature and state of the Quandong industry to 2001. It covers the nomenclature, aboriginal and colonial history, development of the present industry, botany, uses, research and development, and future of the sweet quandong, together with coloured photographs. It is the first in the list of 10 information "sheets" produced by the Australian Quandong Industry Association (AQIA).

$25.00 including postage within Australia

(wholesale prices available on application)

Available from: Elizabeth Gordon-Mills PO Box 32 Langhorne Creek, SA 5255 (08) 8535 8212 0411 189 023 egordon-mills@bigpond.com OR AQIA PO Box 1160 Loxton South Australia 5333

Sunrise Lime Dieback



The Australian Sunrise Lime A is a CSIRO-selected native citrus hybrid, with a parentage that includes Australian finger lime (Citrus australasica), mandarin and cumquat. The variety is available through a contract production arrangement with Australian Native Produce Industries Pty Ltd and small but increasing plantings are occurring in South Australia, Victoria arid New South Wales, and to a lesser extent in Queensland and Western Australia. A disease, labelled `Sunrise Lime Dieback', has appeared recently in some orchards and appears to be confined to this cultivar, although it is similar to diebacks that occasionally occur in other citrus varieties. History and Symptoms During spring 2000 a twig and limb dieback was observed in Sunrise Lime in several districts, including the Adelaide Hilts, Riverland arid Sunraysia areas. In general, the first symptom noted by growers was the wilting of leaves and death of branches, up to 1cm in diameter, although this symptom was actually preceded by the (often unnoticed) death of smaller twigs and shoot tips. While most Sunrise Lime trees in each affected block showed symptoms, only some branches on each tree were affected, with adjacent branches apparently healthy and often showing flush growth. Adjacent Australian Blood Lime A and Australian Outback Lime A trees as well as other nearby citrus varieties were unaffected.

Several growers also report observing similar, though apparently less severe, symptoms in previous seasons. 

Causal Agent The causal agent for the disease has been identified as a Phoma sp. fungus. Fungi in this family are often saprophytic, that is they only threat of spread to other citrus varieties. 

Incidence To-date, the disease has only been observed in the spring. It appears likely that the mild temperatures and/or increasing moisture in the form of rain, heavy dew or fog at this time of year may be necessary for disease development. 

It is also likely that healthy tissue will resist infection and twig dieback or bark injury from causes such as sunburn, water stress, fertilizer burn, wind abrasion, hail injury or pruning wounds may be necessary for infection to occur. Control Good general management that minimises water stress, fertilizer burn, wind abrasion and other factors that result in twig death and bark injury should help reduce potential infection points and disease incidence. Routine pruning in winter-spring, which may allow the entry of the fungus, should be avoided. However, at any time of the year dead wood that may have been killed by the fungus or could be harbouring the causal organism should be removed back to healthy tissue. 

Removed dead wood should be burnt and all pruning cuts painted. Copper sprays, which are often routinely applied to control septoria, greasy spot and anthracnose in citrus, are likely to be a successful protective measure and attack dead wood and not living tissue. However, under some situations and in some citrus varieties they are known to invade live wood, with the dieback seen in this case a typical symptom of infection. It appears that Sunrise Lime has a particular sensitivity to this fungus and the presence of the disease on this cuttivar is unlikely to pose a similar dieback diseases in other cultivars overseas are effectively controlled by periodic copper sprays from autumn to early winter. Given competent general management that minimises and removes dead wood, precautionary copper sprays and vigilance in spring, the disease is not expected to be a significant problem in the future. 

Acknowledgements The assistance and input of Dr Steve Sykes, CSIRO Plant Industries; Barbara Hall, SARDI Horticulture Diagnostic Service and Dr Pat Barkley, Auscitrus, in the identification and control recommendations for this disease is gratefully acknowledged. 

Disclaimer Australian Native Produce Industries Pty Ltd (ANPI) gratefully acknowledges the support of Primary Industries and Resources South Australia (PIRSA) in providing funding for the Australian Native Foods Project. ANPI is solely responsible for the authorship of the publication. ANPI and PIRSA and their employees do not warrant nor make any representations regarding the use of the information contained herein as regards to its correctness, accuracy, reliability, currency or otherwise. You assume the entire risk from the implementation of this information/advice. ANPI and PIRSA arid their employees expressly disclaim all liability and responsibility to any person using the information/advice contained in this publication.




Essential Oil & Medicinal Herb Field School La Trobe University, Beechworth, Victoria 22-24 March 2002 

A program of hands on, practical workshops exploring the cultivation, harvesting & distilling of essential oils and medicinal herbs, their applications in herbal medicine and aromatherapy and how to make lotions and potions. Enquiries Ph: 1300 366 321


New Bushfood Seasonings for Sale  

CORROBOREE DUST with the heat of the inland, is a great way to enhance the flavours of all red meats — whether baked, barbecued or stir fried. As the name suggests, this is a red spice, which incorporates native pepperleaf, dried kangaroo apple, kurrajong seeds and other spices. 

BOOBIALLA BUSH SEASONING is milder, like our coastal climates, an added dimension to white meats, fish and vegetables; It is a combination of wattle seed, native pepperleaf and conventional spices. 

COOLAMON HERBS, specifically developed for seafood cookery, has recently been released and is a lemon myrtle based herb sprinkle. This new product has been well received by chefs and seafood lovers.

 For orders: Phone 088735 2043 Fax 8735 2090 Email gfh@seol.net.au