Bunya Bunya, Bonyi Bonyi, Barnji Barnji
Peter Lewis, N.D, H.M.D, S.M.D., J.P. (Qual)
Every two years, athletes emerge from Australia and New Zealand to battle it out in the 5 Day Stage Race, a 350 km event conducted by the Queensland Ultra-Marathon Club Inc. which takes them through 5 Shires, including the arduous climb up the Bunya Mountains on day 4, then down, again on day 5 to eventually arrive back at the start, outside Nanango Shire Chambers. Without exception, commentators forget the final 55 kms of day 5, taking time to soak in the majestic beauty of this tree crowning 3 Council Shires. 1999 has brought the inaugural year of a 140 km, 3 day fun walk, conducted by the above club with the climb up the Bunyas being part of the attraction. Dell and Ron Grant are the race organisers of these events.
These native pines are unmistakable in appearance, being very straight, with a majestically symmetrical outline. Unique among the aboriginal people, Bunya trees had footholds carved into them, so as to facilitate the gathering of cones at the crown of the tree. The seeds develop inside this protective cone, with the cone weighing up to 7 kg. You will obtain yearly crops from a tree, however it has been observed that roughly every 3 years a `bumper' crop occurs.
Herein lies the herbal secret, pertaining to the nutritional value of the nut as a food and medicine source.
I have used specially prepared herbal tinctures of the seed for conditions pertaining to circulatory disturbances and a variety of digestive abnormalities. This quality is a direct result of the nut possessing a very high quality protein in combination with a generous mineral content, particularly trace minerals. Add this to the valuable starch, approximately 65% and 3% fat, you have a most valuable food indeed.
The conditions which I have successfully treated with Bunya seed include, acne, anaemia, colds, constipation, digestive disorders, hypoglycaemia, jaundice, male impotence and varicose veins. Phosphorus, so important in carbohydrate metabolism and acid-alkaline balance is present in Bunya Nut.
I have also used the seed for nervous disorders, hence the presence of the mineral potassium is likely. Zinc, essential for the formation of DNA and the synthesis of body protein appears also to be found in Bunya Nuts. Calcium and Phosphorus seem also to be present in Bunyas, so essential with vital function, of the body, including heart action, muscular activity, lactation for nursing mothers, strengthening to bones and normal nerve function. Nuts are known as a flesh building food, being rich in nitrogenous elements. Bunya nuts are not contaminated with uric acid or waste products, coming to us from nature's laboratory, unadulterated. I have also used Bunyas in the treatment of certain menopausal symptoms.
The seed can be frozen, which is a blessing due to it being so seasonal.
Dextrin is water soluble through the action of heat. Explained more clearly, it is a soluble carbohydrate, notably the first stage of breakdown of starch into simple sugars found in Bunyas.
For those with a scientific flare, you may associate this with the first law of thermodynamics. The approximate 8% of dextrin make the bunya seed a partially predigested food. Bunya seed fibre, approximately 8%, is very balanced proportionately, which can assist with normal bowel activity. Bunya nut bread is something different if you want to brighten up your cooking.
We use about 10% seed to wholemeal flour. Boiling while still in the shell, adding a little salt for 30 minutes, split out of the shell and serve with garlic butter for a treat. As another suggestion, after boiling, fry some with your eggs for breakfast on the weekend. It is certainly delicious in casseroles.
You might say the nut has a slightly resinous flavour. To assimilate nutrients most effectively, eating slowly along with thorough mastication is essential. It is also preferable to eat small helpings rather than having a large helping of Bunya Nut. For efficient digestion of this nut, preferably eat it alone. Too much variety eaten with Bunyas requires more digestive enzymes resulting in less effective digestion. If you do consume them with other foods, keep the variety down to 3 other foods. We are blessed that the divine creator of all things placed a food as perfect as the Bunya Nut for our convenience and we would do well to plant at least one on our property if we live in the range of its natural habitat, for the benefit of future generations.
Australian Sandalwood ~ Graham & Iris Herde
Eremocitrus glauca ~ The Editor
Eucalyptus - edible and useful ~ Christine Jones
'Synthetic' crops ~ Rob Fletcher
The Growing Cycle ~ Mary Meadows
Grower's Notes ~ Wandu Yerta
Bunya ~ Peter Lewis
Pouteria (syn. planchonella) ~ David Sommerville
Bushfoods & Farm Forestry ~ Margaret Bailey
Native Bees ~ Dr Anne Dollin
Broken Hill Project ~ Steve Ross
Quandong ~ AQIA
What's it taste like? Akadjura
Wild Plum, Black Apple, etc
This is a a genus of approximately one hundred species worldwide, with twenty species being found in Australia and fifteen of these being found only here.
The fruit and seed of Pouteria myrsinoides, P. pohlmaniana, P. australis, P. chartacea, P. eerwah and P. continifolia have been reportedly eaten either raw or roasted by Aboriginals. The inner bark has also been reportedly eaten by Aborigines, but the precise species are unknown. Pouteria australis fruit were known to be made into preserves during colonial times.
While the fruit of all Pouteria species are edible, two species stand out, Pouteria australis (Black Apple) and Pouteria eerwah (Wild Plum), the latter being noted as rare and threatened and listed as endangered. Pouteria australis inhabits rainforest of various types; dry rainforest to littoral to luxuriant subtropical rainforest.
It is found from the Illawarra region of southeast New South Wales to Gympie in South East Queensland on red basalt soils.
It attains a size to 30 meters. Black Apple is a bushy tree to twelve meters in cultivation.
It has stiff, leathery, bright green, simple leaves, with the stems often exuding a milky latex when severed. Black Apple has large purplish, black plum-like fruits up to five cm long and these are often found, every few years, in considerable quantities on the rainforest floor.
The fruit contain up to five seeds. These seeds are one of the most distinctive features of the genus, being elongate, pointed at both ends, brown and shiny and having a prominent scar extending almost their entire length. The fruit is ripe from September to late November and is highly prized by mammals and maggots, often being half eaten to reveal the purplish-red flesh. The trunk is usually flanged at the base and in large trees it is often conspicuously channelled or fluted.
Black Apple is often grown in cabinet timber plots for its handsome timber, being used for carving and turnery. Pouteria eerway (Wild Plum) is a rare tree to fourteen meters and is found on high, stony, well drained ridges in Hoop Pine Vine scrub. Soils are derived from sandstone with some volcanic materials in places. The leaves are leathery and obovate.
The flowers are bell shaped, cream in colour, very small and inconspicuous.The fruit is a fleshy, obovoid berry to four cm long and two to four cm in diameter. It is reddish brown to black in colour and contains two to five seeds.
The tree is found in only a few localities - at Mt Eerwah near Eumumdi, Mt Flinders and at Bahr's scrub on Brisbane's southside. Unfortunately all known trees occur on privately owned land. On both the above species, the fruit must be allowed to over ripen. When picked off the tree, or when they have just fallen to the ground, the flesh is hard, astringent and quite sweet. It is during this stage, however, that they are either eaten by various rainforest mammals or become heavily infested with maggots. Both species are best grown in well aerated and draining loamy soils in full sun. Although quite slow growing at first, growth can be accelerated by the use of extra water, mulch and fertilizer.
Fresh seed, free of grub damage germinates rapidly, beginning after about ten days, but may take up to three months with a final germination of around 80%.
Floyd, A.G. (1989) Rainforest Trees of Mainland South Eastern Australia, Forestry Commission of New South Wales
Nicholson, N & H (1994) Australian Rainforest Plants, Vol 4, Terania Rainforest Nursery
Symons, P & S (1994) Bush Heritage, Burnside Road, Nambour, Qld.
J. Leigh, R. Boden, J. Briggs, Extinct and Endangered Plants of Australia (1984) The MacMillan Company of Australia
The following is extracted from a report by Dr Donald Loch on the effect of Plant Breeders' Rights on the breeding of new cultivars of herbage species.
"The basic aim of Plant Breeders' Rights (PBR) is to protect and reward creativity in the breeding of new plant cultivars. (emphasis mine)...
For the purposes of PBR, breeding is an act of discovery and development...hence it can be extended to certain wild material...
Breeding does not automatically infer that physical hybridisation has been carried out by the breeder...hence, selection from within wild populations and subsequent stabilisation of cultivars could be termed breeding."
Food for thought.