Why Not Grow a Bush Food Plant?
Samford Landcare has an ongoing tree planting program and is currently preparing plans to create a walking path alongside Cash Avenue and Samford Creek which will feature bush food plants. Bush food plants are edible plants that are native to Australia. They’ve been harvested, cooked and used as medicine for tens of thousands of years by local Aboriginal people and are an important part of living cultures.
The Bush Food plants planned for Samford Landcare can also be easily grown and harvested in our local back yards and gardens, so children and adults can learn about and enjoy these plants. Here are some popular examples you can plant on National Tree Day:
Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) – Lemon myrtle is a rainforest tree with edible lemon-scented leaves and probably the easiest bush foodplant to grow. They can grow upwards of 4 metres, but can also be pruned to size in a pot. The cooked leaves can be made into a tea or used as a herb. An example of this tree can be seen next to Scotty Barberinos Barber Shop on Main Street Samford. (pictured)
Cinnamon Myrtle (Backhousia myrtifolia) has leaves that give off a cinnamon fragrance when rubbed or crushed, much like the leaves of the curry plant and kaffir lime. The leaves may be used in place of conventional cinnamon spice to flavour curries, stews, soups, roasts, ribs and sauces. In desserts, they add a warm, earthy flavour to pies, biscuits, sweets, pastries and slices and may also be used fresh or dried, steeped in hot water to make a herbal tea.
Scrambling Lily (Geitonoplesium cymosum) This is an evergreen perennial climbing vine that grows to 4 metres. The shoots are rather tasty. Eaten fresh and raw from the vine they taste like crisp asparagus. When spring comes you can look forward to masses of sparkling white flowers. This is a good replacement plant for weedy vines like Cat’s Claw Creeper and excellent for placing on a trellis and hiding water tanks.
Pink Lime Berry (Glycosmis trifoliata) The small orange fruits of pink lime berry are sweet, juicy, honey flavoured with resinous overtones. These are eaten fresh. The fruits also make a delicious jam which has a characteristic taste of candied honey. Pink lime berry is a very easy to grow plant native to North Queensland. It can grow nearly everywhere, but it does especially well when planted in sunny locations.
All of the above plants can be obtained from the Kumbartcho Nursery at Eatons Hill.
There has been increased recognition of the nutritional and gourmet value of native Australian foods and Samford Landcare recently visited local provider, Kakadu Organics in Samford Village, to investigate what examples of bush foods are available off the shelf. Native Davidson’s Plum Jam, Quandong and Mango Chutney, Hazelnut and Wattleseed Dukka are all delicious, so while you’re waiting the growth of your own bush food plants, you have a ready source of bush food products in Samford right now.