Podocarpus elatus is fruiting in Botanic Park. I rode past recently with my beady eyes alert, looking for this tree. I’ve investigated its qualities previously and discovered the fruit is edible. And today, there they were, lying on the ground in plenty. They offer plenty of weirdness by regular fruit standards, since the seed is outside the fruit. One of the less common forms of fruit in my limited experience! Here they are on the tree…
And on the ground below.
This is the tree itself. It is native to Australia, but it is a rainforest tree. For those who don’t know… I am not living anywhere near a rainforest. South Australia is generously described as having a Mediterranean climate. Those less generous just call it a desert, and a fair amount of the state answers that description.
I tried eating one of the fruits and it was just as I remembered it from last time: subtle is the most I could say about the flavour, and the word ‘mucilaginous’ came to mind immediately. If there is a commercial application for this fruit perhaps it would be… lubricant. Or perhaps it could be the gumbo of Australian bush food desserts. I tried leaf prints… but nothing too exciting came of it.
I twisted the seeds off the fruit and soaked the fruit overnight–pitting plums has never been so simple. No change in the colour of the water. I cooked them for almost an hour–water a deep plum colour by now–and then threw in a sample card and some silk thread. Soon after that, the alum mordanted wool looked almost blue, and the other fibres (cotton, silk, wool) looked pink. After about an hour of heat, the alum mordanted wool was deep grey-blue, the wool was deep rose-pink and the other fibres looked paler shades of pink.
Needless to say, this outcome made me think I should go back to that tree 🙂