Tag Archives: Quandong

Quandong planting…

I mentioned to my parents that I was trying to grow a quandong (Santalum Acuminatum).  This is a native tree that carries edible fruits. It was, and is, known to Indigenous peoples who ate it, and is one of the better known bushfoods.  Some non-Indigenous people call it native peach but to me it is more like rhubarb, and yet unlike rhubarb, being its own thing. It is sour and tangy but the texture is quite firm, and softens with cooking.  It was one of the special treats of my childhood.  Free food was always exciting in my family but some free food was more exciting. Quandongs were especially good, partly because they often led to quandong pie and pie was a rarity.  Plus, the fun of cracking the pits to eat the nuts. When we lived in the goldfields in Western Australia we would forage for these fruits, finding the trees because emus left telltale signs they had been eating them. We had a tree in our yard in one mining town we lived in. My grandmother had a tree in her back yard.  But these trees turn out to require a symbiotic relationship with another plant/s and they are quite hard to grow in your backyard (depending on where it is). They resist domestication.

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My comment to my father resulted in a surprise gift of saved quandong pits.  My uncle has a grove of trees at his place further north in our state and preserving them is a huge seasonal task, because the fruits are small (perhaps the size of a hazelnut in its shell–smaller than a walnut in its husk) and the edible part is at best the thickness of orange peel and more often the thickness of mandarin peel around the pit, and about the same texture when raw. My uncle had seeds dating back to 2011, saved with the location of the original tree marked on them (most were from the farm where my aunt grew up).  I have no idea if they are viable.  But there were kilograms of them! And then there were about 5 fruits saved in an envelope that Dad had saved from a tree he found at a lookout, that he thought would be extra suitable for a dry site.

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Well, I took my uncle’s advice–he thinks these are easy to grow but my experience is different–scuffed up the mulch in the front yard where it has taken only 3 years to get our quandong tree to knee height (but the fact it is alive and growing is a triumph), and put them in.  I planted lots in the front yard, and then headed out into the neighbourhood planting them in mulched areas all over the place where I presume the chances are slim but success would be awesome! I hope the winter rain and now the spring weather persuades these little pits to seek out the light and a companion plant and all the other necessities of life.


Filed under Neighbourhood pleasures

A story of a quandong and its mistletoe

One weekend recently we went to visit a friend who lives near the Aldinga Scrub. While I was there we went for a wonderful walk on the beach, making the dog and ourselves happy.  So I collected a couple of samples while we were out, as many local people, like my friend, are planting as many local species as they can around their homes.  I decided to try a quandong and its mistletoe.  In case you’re not from around here, dear reader, let me advise that in Australia, mistletoe is a big family of parasitic plants which will eventually (but usually slowly) kill their hosts.  It isn’t so much the romantic plant under which people kiss at certain festivals.  There are lots of mistletoes, and they are cunningly adapted to a narrow range of host plants.

I have a fabulous book on mistletoes, Mistletoes of Southern Australia by David M Watson, published by the CSIRO.  It has me in awe of these extraordinary plants, but has convinced me that I am unlikely ever to be able to identify them with confidence.  There are only 46 to choose from in this part of the continent, though, so the task is a good bit smaller than learning Eucalypt identification.  There are some mistletoes in the book that this plant is clearly not.  But as to which one it is… I have several candidates in mind.  And I don’t know which of the quandongs this is, either.  It doesn’t look like the favoured bush food species Santalum acuminatum to me.  But Wikipedia lists a lot of other varieties all called ‘quandong’!

Anyway, on to the leaf prints.  Quandong in flower, before:


After cooking with iron, which left quite an impression:


The iron may have made an impression, but this convinced me that this quandong isn’t much of a dye plant.  And now, the mistletoe, which is in glorious flower and will later create a rather impressive berry.  Before:


And after.  I think this leaf print is a good bit less glorious than the plant, but this is definitely a distinct print.  So the mistletoe has dye potential.


And that is the story of the quandong and its mistletoe for now…


Filed under Dye Plants, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Uncategorized