Bush Tucker or Bush Food is food native to Australia and was present before European colonisation. Australian Aborigines selected food which was available and ate it for nutritional purposes. Bush Tucker plants are used now for jams, chutney and jellies, flavourings (e.g. Lemon Myrtle), spices (e.g. Mountain Pepper), drinks, sauces, colours (e.g. Davidson’s plum).
This article provides a selection of Bush Tucker food suitable to grow in most Sydney gardens.
A small rainforest tree which bears long plum like fruit with a purple black skin and attractive foliage. The delicious tangy acid taste makes the fruit a favourite for jams and wines. As an understory rainforest tree, it can be grown in shady conditions but is increasingly being planted in full sun as a commercial plant. The Kakadu Plum from the Top End of Australia has been identified as the single natural food source with the highest vitamin C content on the planet.
There are two species of Macadamia which produce edible fruit, Macadamia integrifolia is the commercially preferred species. This is a small evergreen tree, native to SE Queensland, with glossy, dark green leaves in groups of three. In spring it produces sprays of creamy white, fragrant flowers, followed by green fruit which ripens into hard-shelled, brown nuts. Macadamia nuts are delicious and healthy to eat. They do not contain cholesterol and the oil contains 78% monounsaturated fats. Macadamias grow best in warm, frost free areas and need plenty of water and mulching.
Lemon Myrtle is a bushy Queensland rainforest tree to about 8m, having dark green lemon-scented leaves to 100mm long. It flowers prolifically with large bunches of small white flowers on the ends of branches. The leaves are used fresh or dried and ground and have a lemon and lime oil flavour. They
can be used with baked fish, to make lemon tea, breads and cheesecakes, chicken and rice dishes and sauces.
Midyim is a small rambling shrub with pointed leaves to 25mm long with small white flowers followed by round, blue-grey spotted fruits which ripen in autumn. The midyim fruits were gathered and eaten fresh by aborigines and have a pleasant, slightly aromatic taste.
The native raspberries are small to medium prickly shrubs, some being scramblers. Rubus parvifolius is suitable for eastern Australian states and is easily propagated from tip cuttings and root fragments. The red fruits of this plant are delicious to eat and can be used as a substitute for the exotic
Commonly called Lilly Pillies, all species produce edible berries and Wirreanda Nursery has a range of Lilly Pillies including Syzygium Cascade, Resilience and paniculatum dwarf. Syzygium luehmannii is a beautiful and commonly grown rainforest tree with new growth changing through several colours. A dense tree, narrow in habit, but can be pruned easily to shape. White terminal flowers in late spring or early summer are followed by masses of bright red pear-shaped fruit to about 1cm long. The fruits have a clove-like flavouring and can be used for making jam, in tarts, meat sauce and cakes. It is an appealing plant for many reasons and one of the most important plants used by the modern bush food industry.