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Issue 18

From the newsletters

Please see the Groups' listing for details of these organisations.


Newsletter of the Australian Quanding Industry Association: Winter 2001 Analysis of Santalum acuminatum wood. Transfer of photosynthate and naturally occurring insecticidal compounds from host plants to the root hemiparasite Santalum acuminatum. A summary of the pharmaceutical properties of Australian sandalwood oil.

Australian Wild Herb Bulletin (Vol 2, Iss 2)

Melia azedarach - profile Component odour descriptions .for essential oils Wild food feast. Wild herbs of eastern USA. Medicinal weeds.

Native vegetation and NSW politics. The Wild Herb Bulletin is available from: Wild Herb Bulletin `Stanley' Golden Highway, Merriwa, NSW 2329 Ph: 02 6548 5189 email: pengelly@hunterlink.net.au

Southern Vales Bushfoods

The domestication and improvement of Kunzea pomifera - Muntries SGAP food study group: Fitzalania heteropetala - Orange annona Growing bunyas from cuttings Melastoma affine - Blue tongue Carallia brachiata - Corkwood Golden quandong Capparis mitchelli Growing Hicksbeachia (red) nuts Bushfood Bulletin (Qld Bushfood Associaton) `Bushfood' or `Native Food'? Indigiscape report Lots of good snippets, plus past and present events. Southern Bushfood Ass.

June 2001

RIRDC Research

Names (bushfood or native food?)

Canberra meeting

Review of `Plants of Significance to the Ganai Community'

`Australia on the shelf'

Domestication of Kunzea pomifera (muntries)

Cultivation of native foods in SE Australian environments

Billardiera scandens

Harvest news


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

From the list


Germination Trials

Emerging crops

Bellinger Valley Bushfoods & Auntie Myrtles Spice Factory Mobile Distillation Service

  Consign your Backhousia spp. to us and enjoy the marketing power of Negusmedia. Phone Ron on 02 6655 9544 Maree on 02 6655 2073



Interim Results of Dormancy-breaking Germination Trials


Below are just some of the seeds Andrew still needs for testing: 

Acronychia acidula 

Apium prostratum 

Araucaria bidwillii 

Athertonia diversifolia 

Austromyrtus hillii 

Billardiera varifolia 

Capparis spp 

Cinnamommum spp 

Citrus glauca 

Cucumis melo spp agrestis 

Diploglottis campbellii & spp 

Eupomatia bennettii 

Exocarpus latifolius 

Ficus destruens 

Ficus fraseri 

Ficus superba 

Ficus watkinsiana 

Geitonoplesium cymosum 

Melastoma affine 

Owenia spp Persoonia spp 

Pipturus argenteus 

Planchonella australis 

Planchonella careya 

Pouteria spp 

Psychotria loniceroides & P. simmondsiana 

Rubus fraxinifolius, 

R. moorei Smilax spp 

Solanum diversiflorum 

Sterculia quadrifida 

Syzygium spp 

Tasmannia lanceolata 

Terminalia spp 

Vitex glabrata  

Please contact Andrew: Ph: (02) 6201 2692 

Email: anp@scides.canberra.edu.au 

Thanks to those who provided generous input into ways in which I can contribute to the bushfood industry, and as a result I have started a wide-ranging series of germination experiments to help the industry in determining successful seed propagation methods to bring species into cultivation. Enclosed is a progress report on this research to date. 

You will note that the most significant findings are: 

1. First ever cultivated germination record for the Cherry Ballarat (Exocarpus cupressiformis). This result is now being tested on other Exocarpus seeds as they become available. 

2. First ever cultivated germination for a Cassytha sp. (C. pubescens). 

3. Preliminary success to some small degree with the difficult genera of Gahnia, and Billardiera. Secondary trials are underway with these genera to test new combinations and prolonged treatments to try to improve these preliminary results. 

4. Indications of other species that would benefit from more work, to speed evident dormancy demonstrated by delayed germination - including: Backhousia citriodora, Citrobatus spinescens, Eustrephus latifolius, & Tetragonia tetragonoides (fresh seeds). 

5. Waiting on results for some other difficult genera, and hoping that some of these may still germinate - Cissus hypoglauca, Cordyline stricta, Leucopogon lanceolatus, Persoonia spp, and Tasmannia insipida.  

This work is currently being undertaken with no funding support. It is being funded by my research funds, which I earn from small consultancy projects undertaken at the University of Canberra. Your support is essential to this continued work, by way of providing me with fresh seeds of any species I need to undertake tests on. In return I am freely disseminating all results of this research. 

Thanks again for your support and encouragement. I am happy with the results to date, and hope to continue to support the industry by way of research. Other areas of research that I am still considering are investigation of seed storage methods to prolong viability for genera that are known to need to be sown from fresh seed (eg. Syzygium); and some investigation into seed treatments (eg. temperature and duration trials for denaturing of Sterculic Acid in Brachychiton seeds). 

If you have any ideas of worthwhile research be sure to let me know. 

Andrew Paget Lecturer, Ph: (02) 6201.2692 

Email: anp@scides.canberra.edu.au 

University of Canberra ACT 2601, Australia. Location: Kirinari Street, Bruce ACT Web: www.canberra.edu.au 


Emerging Indigenous Crops of Australia: 

Part 1 Considine, J.A. 1996 In: J. Janick (ed.), 

Progress in new crops. ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA.


The Australian bush has been regarded as a collection of weeds and something that interferes with the exploitation of the soil and mineral resources. Many urban people regard the bush as "foreign" and as a wasteland. A few see it as a unique living museum, to be preserved at all costs. For entrepreneurs and some government authorities, it is a resource for harvesting (mining) bio-resources, as it was for aborigines. Australia's genetic resources have been neglected. As in the case of our minerals, there is a need for a concerted program of exploration and research to identify and develop the resource. Conservation is also vital to protect our genetic heritage and maximise our contribution to the diversity of world agriculture. 

The need for added diversity  

World agriculture and horticulture is based on a tiny proportion of world plant genetic resources. For example Purseglove (1968) lists about 80 species of dicotyledonous food plants while Simmonds (1976) lists 94 plant species, both monocots and dicots. Bailey (1951) lists 5,347 species of plants cultivated for food, decoration and amenity use. These figures compare with an estimated world diversity of about 250,000 species (Takhtajan 1969). Only 32 of the 94 species listed by Simmonds are significant crops and of these, less than 20 form the staple foods for the developed and much of the developing world and again only seven form the starch base. It is truly astonishing that in a world as diverse in peoples and cultures and with a population exceeding five billion that such a small selection of the total available resource is adequate. 

In Western countries the "health food" industry is now a force driving the search for variety in foods. The vegetarian sector has been especially important in establishing a viable market for diverse plant foods in a trend that reflects the diversity of foods used by hunter-gatherer societies such as the Australian aborigine. The need for diversity is readily apparent from a study of the countries of origin of the staple foods. Most are Mediterranean or tropical in origin. 

Thus the majority of our domesticated world crops are plants that are poorly adapted to the arid zones of Australia and other developed and developing nations with large tracts of arid, irrigable land (Cherry 1985). The present emphasis on marginal lands for agriculture is being exacerbated by the loss of fertile lands to urban, non farming use. In the United States of America 3 million ha of prime land have been lost to agriculture (Nabhan and Felgar 1985). 

To address these problems substantial international effort is now being devoted to developing new cropping systems for arid regions of the world (Gonzalez 1978; Hall et al. 1979; Manassah and Briskey 1981). Other points concern the water use efficiency of temperate and tropical plants grown in arid environments, the so called "transplanted" crops (Evans 1980). Certainly there can frequently be a substantial gain in quality due to minimal infestation with pests and disease in arid environments but there is a cost. This cost is the mining of water, the disruption of hydrogeologic cycles and salinization of soils and aquifers; a problem with which Australia is already severely affected (Peck et al. 1983). It has been demonstrated that "transplanted" crops grown under these circumstances use 20% to 40% more water to produce yields equivalent to those produced in more humid climates (Pimental et al. 1982). 

To complete the argument we have the viewpoint that "transplanted" crops have reached their physiological limit of yield (Austin et al. 1980; Evans 1980). There is the prospect also of global warming and a vastly altered climate that may need to be dealt with in the foreseeable future (WMO 1986). Arguments in favour of a concerted effort to develop new crops are: 

(1) a depauperate range of foods in a diverse and populous world; 

(2) changing markets and demand for new products to meet special interest groups; 

(3) loss of prime farming land and drift to marginal lands unsuited to existing crops; 

(4) depletion and degradation of water resources; 

(5) poor water use and nutrient use efficiency of present day crops; and 

(6) diminishing returns to breeding with existing crops. 

The debate is developing now in order to define appropriate strategies to meet items 3 to 6 listed above; marginal lands, water resources and plant improvement. Alternative plant breeding strategies include introgression from wild relatives (Borlaug 1983) and the application of biotechnology to the insertion of foreign genetic material from whatever source seems appropriate (Qualset 1982; Barton and Brill 1983; Austin, 1988). However attractive these strategies are, another option deserving of equal attention is the domestication of minor crops, their wild relatives, and traditional wild foods (National Academy of Sciences 1975; Nabhan and Felgar 1985). 

The Australian Resource

Australian plant resources have a unique heritage. Of particular significance is their evolutionary link to the early flora of Gondwana Land and the climatic pressures extant over the 100 to 150 million years of their evolution (Barlow 1981; Nix 1982). This, according to Nix, has led to development of plants adapted to climatic change with an emphasis in recent geological time on enhanced seasonality and aridity. Adaptability is a vital factor that argues strongly in favour of the domestication of selected species of Australian plants for commerce. Indeed their value has already been demonstrated by the many species in cultivation both here and on other continents. 

History of Transfer of Genetic Resources  

The early history of the export and cultivation of Australian plants revolves around ornamental plants and forestry, rather than food plants. It is a good though narrow guide to those plants that combine desirable economic and agronomic features. That is, their products are desirable and the plants propagate easily and adapt to a wide range of geographic and edaphic conditions. 

This history is expressed in three areas: the identity of the collectors and the destination of the plants, the range and type of product, and modern history of collecting and harvesting from the bush. Some of the key figures in early plant exploration and distribution of genetic resources were Sir Joseph Banks, Ludwig Leichhardt, and Baron Sir Ferdinand von Mueller. Baron von Mueller's investigations and writings on the economic flora (Mueller 1879-84) were largely responsible for the establishment of eucalypt oil producing forests and factories in France, Portugal, Brazil, South Africa, and USSR (Elliot and Jones 1983). The very intensity of the early harvest indicates the level of financial reward available to the avid collector and nurseryman. Elliot and Jones (1983) recorded 286 species exported to England, both to botanic gardens and to private nurserymen. Much of the botanic garden material was extended to private nurseries for subsequent sale to the public. 

These figures clearly understate the level of collecting because Leichhardt (1847) alone collected some 200 species. Nevertheless the figure indicates those species which met the combined criteria of desirability and suitable agronomic characteristics. In recent times Elliot and Jones noted that one Midland nursery advertised some 300 species of Australian plants for sale while a second nursery had 125 species for sale. One Irish gardener, presently cultivates more than 50 species of eucalypt in a cool temperate environment indicating the adaptability of the flora (D. Robinson, pers. commun.), diversity rivaling that available in any retail or wholesale nursery or garden in Australia. The history of export to America is even more dramatic with nearly 800 Australian species now in cultivation (Elliot and Jones 1983). 

Many of these came via England as exchange material from Botanic Gardens although Baron von Mueller was very active in responding to a request for aid in providing advice for plants to rehabilitate the gold fields and provide on-site fuel and building materials. This he did, apparently in return for the U.S. Senate undertaking to publish his writing on the subject and to provide him with 50 copies (Elliot and Jones 1983). The trade in "bush-picked" wildflowers and plant products is further evidence of the value of Australian genetic resources (Burgman and Hopper 1982). Data collected by the Department of Conservation and Land Management shows that about 21 million stems and about 4 tonnes of seed was harvested in 1980-81. At an average of 20 seeds per gram (guesstimate), this represents about 80 million seeds per annum at a cost of less than 1 cent each, a vastly greater scale of export than that undertaken by Botanic Gardens in their exchange programs. 

The range of species harvested is another important indicator of resource value and this has been as high as 1,119 (Rye et al. 1980). Thus the number of species which are exploited presently is in the order of one to two thousand, about 8% of the total resource of 25,000 species. Probably no other continent has such a high proportion of its floral genetic resources being exploited commercially. It is important to note that no food plants are specifically included in the list of presently exploited plants. 

Australian Plant Resources Foods

Australian natural plant resources are distinguished from those of other lands not by their innate worth, but by the lack of effort devoted to domesticating and formalizing the harvesting of that resource as a renewable resource. Despite some evidence of rudimentary gardening (Kimber 1976; Latz and Griffin 1976; Hynes and Chase 1982), Australia, unlike other continents, does not have a record of active pre-historic agricultural development. Most food crops have a history of selection and improvement over a period of at least 5 to 10,000 years (Heiser 1979, 1981; Simmonds 1976; Roach 1988). The Australian aborigines were hunter-gatherers in a land that supplied all their needs. That aboriginal cultures have histories of 40,000 years or more (Issacs 1980) attests to the value of the native harvestable resources. This is reinforced by analyses of the nutritional value of their plant foods (Peterson 1978, 1979; Brand and Cherikoff 1985). The diversity of foods used regularly by Australian aborigines is apparently far greater than that of Western societies. Many fall into minor use categories (Peterson 1978). 

An estimated 207 species have been inventoried as aboriginal food plants. This compares to 94 world food crops, many of which are also of minor use (Simmonds 1976). The current list of aboriginal food plants still understates the variety of foods in use. For example, Pate and Dixon (1982) list 36 species of Western Australian geophytes as being used for food (out of a total of 204 species) and Crawford (1982), in his investigation of the Kalumburu area of Western Australia, lists 39 species of food plant not included in Issac's (1987) account. The complete list is undoubtedly very extensive (Latz and Griffin 1978; Henshall et al. 1982). The variety of edible foods contrasts markedly with the opinion of early explorers such as Burke and Wills (Anon. 1961) and early settlers, who considered the bush as a desert land lacking food resources. Leichhardt (1847) and Grey (1841) showed much more interest in "bush foods" but the early attitudes persist unto the present day. Maiden (1889), supported Hooker's quote that "the products of many plants although `eatable' are not `fit to eat' and would never be employed as food except in the direst necessity," a view supported also by Pate and Dixon (1982). This view is now changing and available evidence suggests strong selection in many existing crops for palatability and wholesomeness against an unpalatable and toxic background (Heiser 1981). 

Part 2 in the next issue...



Arid Land Growers Ass Inc

Graham Herde

Nectar Brooks Station via

Port Augusta

SA 5700

Ph: 08 8634 7 077

Queensland Bushfood Association

Chair - John King.

Ph: 07 3284 2202

email: jrmrk@bytesite.com.au

South East Sustainable Bushfood Industry Group

Secretary: Terence Carpenter

443 Kameruka Lane

Candelo NSW 2550

Ph: 02 64 932 227

Fax: 0264 932 225

Southern Bushfoods Ass:

RMB 7390A, Wartook, Vic 3401

Ph: 03 5383v 6247


Very established group. Newsletter and meetings.

Southern Bushfood Association

President: David Thompson,

RMB 7390A Wartook VIC 3401

Ph/fax: 03 5383 6247

email: dinkumfare@hotmail.com

General membership: $35 pa

Commercial membership: $50 pa

6 newsletters per year

Australian Native Bee Research Centre

Promotes the preservation and enjoyment of Australian native bees. Publishes 'Aussie Bee'.

PO Box 74

North Richmond, NSW 2754

Fax: 02 4576 1196

email: anbrc@zeta.org.au

Southern Vales Bushfood Ass.

Mike Brandwood

PO Box 344

Clarendon, SA 5157

Ph: 08 8383 6481

email: brandwood@picknowl.com.au

Australian Quandong Industry Association Inc

President: Robin Schaefer

PO Box 236

Upper Sturt, SA 5156

Ph: 08 8584 7781.

Fax: 08 8584 6350

Australian Plants Society Web Page:


Bio-Dynamic Agriculture Association


Ph: 03 5966 7 333

Fax: 03 5966 7433

Bio-Dynamic Farming & Gardening Assoc. in Aust

PO Box 54 BELLINGEN NSW 2454 Ph: (066) 55-0404

Fax: (066) 55-0399

Biological Farmers of Australia

PO Box 3404

Toowoomba Village Fair

Qld 4350

Ph: (0746) 393 299

Fax: (0746) 393 755

Canberra Organic Growers Society (COGS)

PO Box 347 Dickson, ACT 2602

email: cogs@netspeed.com.au

Organic Herb Growers of Australia Inc

P.O. Box 6171 SOUTH LISMORE NSW 2480. Ph: (066) 291 057

Tree Crops Centre

PO Box 27, Subiaco, WA 6008

Phone: (08) 9388 1965

Fax: (08) 9388 1852

Davidsonia Industry Ass.

Daryl: davoplum@webmongrel.com

Membership: $25

PO Box 770 Burringbar 2483.

Australian Plants Society

Food Study Group

Lenore Lindsay:

323 Philp Ave


QLD 4701


Henry Doubleday Research Ass.

816 Comleroy Rd Kurrajong NSW 2758

Est. 1970 to promote organic methods and principles in gardening and farming.

Great newsletter.

Society for Growing Australian Plants

Queensland region:

PO Box 586

Fortitude Valley

Qld 4006

Ordinary m'ship: $37 pa

Student: $29 pa

web page: www.sgapqld.org.au

Native Food Growers Group Inc

Elizabeth Shannon

1358 Triamble Rd

Hargraves NSW 2850

Fax: 0263 738 636

Northern Bushfood Ass., Inc

An umbrella group for bushfood enthusiasts in Northern Australia.

Secretary: Larry Geno

434 Ilkley Rd

Ilkley Qld 4554

Ph/Fax: 07 5478 8815

Australian Plants Society


PO Box 744

Blacktown NSW2148

Publishes 'Australian Plants' and 'Native Plants for NSW'

Ph: 02 9621 3437

Fax: 02 9676 7603


Bushfood Plants Found Here...

VIC: Melbourne St Kilda Indigenous Nursery Coastal species - phone for full species list. 03 9645 2477 525 Williamstown Rd, Port Melbourne

QLD: Sunshine Coast


Fairhill Native Plants Huge range of native plants suitable for subtropical east coast, including bushfoods and reveg. species. Fairhill Rd Yandina: 07 5446 7088 email: fairhill@bigpond.com

Qld: Brisbane

Edible Gardens Permaculture nursery with a large range of edible native and rainforest plants 37 Bangalla St, Auchenflower Ph: 07 3720 8950

Northern NSW

S.E. Qld: Tallebudgera

Cornucopia Nursery Wide range of species 55 Station St, Mullumbimby NSW 2482. Enquiries: web site: http://users.mullum.com.au/~botanica email: botanica@mullum.com.au

Bush Nuts Native Nursery A propagation/wholesale nursery with over 200 rainforest and rainforest margin species 64 Syndicate Rd Tallebudgera Valley 4228 Ph/fax: 0755 338 105


NSW: South Coast 

South Coast Flora Species suitable for temperate/cool climates, including: Illawarra plum, Mountain pepper, Cool climate Syzygium spp, native herbs and teas. 146 Dignam's Creek Rd, Via Cobargo NSW 2550 Phone: 026 493 6747

SA: Port Augusta

Nector Brook Discovery Plantation Santalum spicatum (Australian Sandalwood) Propagated to order for Autumn and Spring planting. In biodegradable tubes with host plants. $3.50 each. Box 393 Port Augusta 5700 Ph/Fax: 0886 347 077

NSW: Bowraville 

SPIRIT OF THE RAINFOREST Growers of Davidson's Plum - NSW species. Ph: 02 65647426 e-mail: nahele@midcoast.com.au 'Nahele', McHughs Creek Road, via Bowraville, NSW, 2449.

Maleny, Qld 

Barung Landcare Nursery... A wide selection of rainforest bushfood species. Contact us for a listing: Ph: 07 5494 3151 Fax: 07 5494 3141 email: barung@sun.big.net.au Tasmanian Garden Design and Consultancy Bushfood horticulture consultant and specialist grower of Tasmanian Native Plants. Kris Schaffer Dip. Art., Cert. Hort., MAIH Ph/Fax: 03 6239 1575 Mobile: 041958 7139 


Would you like to know more about our native bees? Subscribe to `Aussie Bee'- the most informative source for everything about our fascinating natives! Subscription: $19.50pa (3 issues) 2 years: $39.00 (6 issues) More information from: 

Australian Native Bee Research Centre PO Box 74, North Richmond, NSW 2754. Fax: 02 4576 1196 email: anbrc@zeta.org.au