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Native edible plants

By Ben Sims
18 June, 2020

 

Midyum berry.JPG


**Disclaimer – You are not legally allowed to sample bushfoods from national parks or most public spaces as they are an important part of the ecosystem and removing them affects all the other plants and animals that rely on them as everything is interconnected in nature.  Also, many plants will make you sick or may even cause death if incorrectly identified, prepared incorrectly or eaten raw vs cooked.  The aboriginal people knew what they were doing and how to prepare each plant for eating as they had done so for thousands of years and passed that knowledge on. Even the first white people to come to Australia tried their luck  surviving on native plants and many times it gave them an upset stomach or made them violently ill but eventually with the help of botanists but not always they found many things that were safe and sometimes even very tasty to eat.

  
There is an abundance of food out there if you know what to look for and you are trained in identifying each plant. Across Australia the food varies allot and some of the nicest native fruits and berries can be found in far northern NSW to far northern QLD. The most famous edible nut that has gone global is the Macadamia nut which is delicious and has an abundance of health properties, I’ve tried different berries and yams from up there and they are very tasty but this was on a tour with an experienced aboriginal guide. There is an amazing abundance of fruiting plants in those areas. I would have to say that this region has foods so tasty that you would substitute them for many of the commonly cultivated fruits you eat today. 


In Western Australia particularly coastal WA there are allot of plants which have edible leaves or fruits, but they are quite often salty and not fruity like you would hope for. The salt bushes for example have leaves that can be used in cooking, Samphire is actually really tasty raw or cooked and is currently used in fine dining. There are many plants that can be used to flavor tea such as native lemon grass or tea tree leaves and after a talk by survival expert Bob Cooper we were lucky enough to try his bush tea which was actually delicious. Western Australia has edible yams and the orchids also have edible tubers like potatoes but you should under no circumstances eat orchid bulbs as many species are very rare and the population you are eating might be the only population on the planet of that particular orchid. There are certain Banksia flowers can be used to sweeten water and make a nice sweet drink. There are thousands of edible plants and I’ve only summarized a small variety of what is actually out there, and they vary allot for different parts of Australia. There are also many native versions of the cultivated plants we have come to like such as limes, strawberries and figs to mention a few. 


Fortunately thanks to the work of Mark Tucek(Domus nursery) from Tucker bush and his team we can enjoy many edible plants from around Australia and he’s done extensive research over a long period to guarantee that they are not only safe to eat but most of them are very tasty. 
Below is a sample of what they have for a full list and descriptions please visit their website: 


https://tuckerbush.com.au/

Fruiting:

 

  • Rosella – Hibiscus sabdarrifa (Makes a Jam) 
  • Midyum Berries – Austromyrtus dulcis (like a piney flavored blueberry) 
  • Finger Lime – Citrus australasica (Put it in a beer/drink or desert) 
  • Muntries – Kunzea pomifera (like tiny apples) 
  • Illawara plum – Podocarpus elatus (very sweet and tasty) 
  • Sandpaper Fig – Ficus coronata 

Herb and spice: 

 

  • Red Back Australian Ginger – Alpinia caerulea (desert, teas,cooking)
  • Lemon Myrtle – Backhousia citriodora (leaves flavor cakes and deserts) 
  • Bloodroot – Haemodorom spicatum (spicy tuber) 
  • Native Lemongrass – Cymbopogon ambiguus (teas/dessert) 
  • Native River Mint – Mentha australis (teas/dessert)
  • Native Thyme – Prostanthera incisa (Cooking)
  • Native Oregano – Prostanthera rotundifola (Cooking)

Vegetable plants:

 

  • WA Samphire – Tecticornia lepidosperma (edible green)
  • Warrigal greens – Tetragonia tetragonoides 
  • Youlk – Platysace desflexa (Ravensthorpe raddish) 
  • Sea Celery – Apium annuum 
  • Sea Parsley – Apium prostratum