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The Witjuti Column Autumn
Graeme White and Veronica Cougan
Graeme and Veronica run the 'Witjuti Grub Bushfood Nursery in Kenilworth, SE Qld. This article first appeared in the 'Mary Valley Voice'.
Exotic citrus species were first introduced into Australia in 1788 by members of the First Fleet. But it wasn't for another 100 years that colonial botanists had `discovered' that there were six species of native citrus endemic to Australia. Aborigines have traditionally included native citrus fruit as part of their diet. However by the mid 19th century European settlers had recognised their potential and were using the strange fruit to make jams, cordials and desserts.
Of the six endemic citrus species, five occur only in the rainforests of the east coast. The sixth, Eremocitrus glauca the desert lime is endemic to the semiarid regions of Eastern Australia.
The five rainforest species were originally classified as Citrus then reclassified as Microcitrus due to the relatively small size of their flowers and fruit. But recently they were changed back to Citrus due to the fact that no two botanists can agree with each other for more than five minutes.
Of the five rainforest species, two naturally occur in south east Queensland. These are the Finger lime, Citrus australasica and our local round lime also known as the Gympie lime, Citrus australis or Dooja by the Aborigines.
The Finger lime is found in the wild from Northern New South Wales to Mt Tamborine. The fruit is unique in the Citrus family because it is finger shaped, or 'Cylindric-fusifonn' if you are one of those botanists. The pulp of the fruit, which may vary in colour from green to pale pink through to crimson, has the unique characteristic of separate juice vesicles which have the appearance of caviar. When eaten these vesicles burst pleasantly at slight pressure from the teeth to provide a welcome refreshing sensation on the tongue.
The Gympie lime is the most vigorous of the native citrus, growing to a height of 9 to 18 metres in the rainforest or to about 5 metres in cultivation. This species flowers in spring and in March/April bears golf ball sized fruit with rough thick skin. The fruit contains a pleasantly acid juice similar to the Finger lime, but does not have the round pulp vesicles or variations in colour.
The Gympie lime will develop into a well shaped compact tree in your bushfood garden, whereas the Finger lime grows to a dense spiny shrub with enormous character. Both species will adapt to a wide range of soil types and will fruit well in full shade, but in general they will produce a more prolific crop in full sun.
Growth of trees should be encouraged in spring, not autumn, by regular applications of an organic fertiliser in late winter and spring which will also minimise insect pest predation. For optimum fruit set water regularly from late winter through summer.
Take a walk through a rainforest gully in the Gympie area, along the edge where the rainforest meets the eucalypts and there you may be fortunate enough to find the Gympie lime growing. Look for the fallen fruit on the forest floor.
Our indigenous foods, while sometimes reminiscent of European foods, have their own particular characteristics that we need to learn to accept and value.
Opposite is a simple but delicious recipe to introduce you to the delights of the wild lime.
Should you require more information or bushfood plants, we have both native limes in stock; feel free to contact us at the Nursery on 07 54460264. Happy foraging, Graeme and Veronica.
Recipe: Wild lime, ginger & coriander butter
2 1/2 cups (500g) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 whole Dooja lime, pureed and strained
2 teaspoons freshly minced ginger
610 sprigs coriander, chopped (to taste)
A pinch of salt Pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until a smooth and silky butter is formed. The butter will be fairly loose at this stage, so press into a serving bowl and refrigerate until it firms up.
This butter is great at barbecues over freshly grilled chicken breast or fish. Both the Gympie and Finger lime have the potential to be substituted for the exotic lime in any recipe.
Some species from the Witjuti Grub Bushfood Nursery:
(You can contact the nursery on 07 5446 0264)
Antidesma erostre Wild current (cutting grown)
Austromyrtus dulcis Midyim berry
Backhousia anisata Aniseed myrtle
Backhousia citriodora Lemon scented myrtle
Citrus australasica Finger lime
Citrus australis Round (Gympie) lime
Curcuma australasica Native tumeric
Davidsonia spp Davidson plum
Dianella caerulea Paroo lily
Diploglottis campbellii Small leaf tamarind
Diploglottis cunninghamii Native tamarind
Diploglottis diphyllostegia Wild tamarind
Elaeagnus triflora Mllaa Millaa
Eugenia reinwardtiana Beach cherry
Eupomatia laurina Bolwarra
Mentha saturoides Native mint
Mimusops elengi Tanjong tree
Planchonella australis Black apple
Pleiogynium timorense Burdekin plum
Podocarpus elatus Plum pine
Podocarpus spinulosa Native damson
Sterculia quadrifida Peantu tree
Syzygium leuhmannii Riberry
Syzygium oleosum Blue cherry
Medicinal Herbs Markets
The following was received by the magazine:
I am currently investigating the market for organically grown native medicinal herbs.
I would appreciate any information you can give me in relation to herbs which you feel have a commercial application and market requirements of same.
Thanks for your time.
21 Lydia St, Wooloowin Qld 4030, 07 3858 1122
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