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Issue 2 , May-June 1997
Essential Oil Producers' Association of Australia
The Essential Oil Producers' Association of Australia has been formed to promote the production of Australian essential oils and natural plant products, to provide a forum for members to exchange information, develop working relationships and promote a unified approach for the industry in areas such as industrial relations, government regulation and quality standards.
The Association also assists with coordination of research into essential oils and allied natural plant extracts, and helps to disseminate research findings to members. This year the Association will begin producing a regular newsletter to keep members up-to-date with new developments in industry policy, essential oils and plant extracts research and other issues of interest to members.
Full membership is open to producers of essential oils, plant extracts and producers of plant material for the production of essential oils or plant extracts.
The end users of the products, consultants and other commercial interests in the industry can take up associate membership (commercial), while individual or institute associate membership is open to non-commercial institutes, researchers and other interested individuals or organisations. For further information contact: Victor Fuchs President, Essential Oil Producers' Association of Australia
Telephone: 02 9484 1341 Facsimile: 02 94818145
Sustainable Native Animal Report Sparks Interest
A new report that examines the potential of farming native fauna has attracted great interest in the community. The aim of the report was to identify the potential of and to propose a management regime for an industry based on the export of native birds and reptiles while also enhancing conservation and biodiversity. Full report:
RIRDC Research Paper 97/26,
RIRDC Research Paper 97/26a
RIRDC PO Box 4776 Kingston ACT 2604
Indigenous Nurseries Network (INN)
The INN has been established to represent producers of indigenous plants and seed collectors across Victoria.
Why is the use of indigenous plants important?
Flora and habitat conservation In many areas across Victoria natural vegetation is under threat from a wide variety of pressures. By planting local species we contribute to the conservation of the natural flora of the region. Many species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and other fauna are dependent on locally occurring natural vegetation for their continued existence in an area. Only by planting local species can these complex interactions between plants and animals be maintained.
Through the use of indigenous plants we contribute to genetic conservation by the maintenance of natural variation within species. By planting nonlocal plant species we risk losing genetic diversity through interbreeding with nearby natural vegetation. Many species are kept distinct in the wild because they are geographically isolated from similar species. When planted outside their natural range these plants may hybridize with local species and lead to the eventual demise of the population.
Indigenous plants have adapted over long periods of time to suit local conditions. Thus the use of locally collected seed should result in greater long-term survival rates of plantings undertaken. Indigenous plants generally only require watering at planting and will not require fertilisation or other soil improvement. Because local species provide habitat for local birds, wasps, spiders, lizards and other insectivorous animals, their use can provide natural pest control.
The character of our landscape is provided by the indigenous vegetation. By planting local species we preserve the unique character of different regions.
A range of exotic and native species, many of which have been deliberately planted in gardens and farms have spread into bushland and other areas. The problems caused by weed invasion are often underestimated, and are considered to be a major threat to our flora and fauna.
The use of locally occurring plants provides excellent opportunities for learning about our indigenous heritage. Many indigenous species provided (and still provide) food for Aboriginal people throughout Australia. Indigenous plantings can provide a medium for ecological and social education.
The INN has been established to represent producers of indigenous plants and seed collectors across Victoria. Over sixty such nurseries exist and they will be able to assist you with information and advice. Contact phone numbers for rural suppliers can be obtained from the network, Contact INN for membership details: Roger Jones, (03) 923 9455.24 Clarence St., East Brunswick VIC 3057.
Nursery industry associations in other States take note!
Every Council should be this keen...
In response to my request, the Caloundra City Council (Sunshine Coast) nursery sent me a run-down of their available bushfood species. Space permits only highlights of the more than seventy (70!) on their list:
Plums - Davidson, Burdekin, Black and Java
16 (!) different Syzygium
Native quava, tamarind,
ginger and yam
Give Len Milne a call on
A regular round-up of old, new, home made, high-tech or simply interesting bushfood products...
Wild about you…
Hand-made, individually wrapped chocolates...rustic pine box packaging...a Gold medal at the 1996 Royal Melbourne Show and a taste test from Mick Jagger himself - "Wild about you" bushfoods are one of a small number of firms taking our native delictables into the market place with style. Mary Ann Thomas and Susan Harper took their background in catering, added Quandong, Illawarra plum. Wattle seed and a range of other native delights and created a range of chocolates which is, in a word, sensational. They also make bushfood mustards and Boobyalla cake (an Australian panforte of wild figs, macadamia nuts, wattle seed and Quandong kernals encased in a toffeed honey). Why wasn't I suprised to find their Chocolate Designs range includes a Witjuti Grub?
Products I haven't found...
Got a product? Let us know. Original, interesting, authentic or simply unusual products will be featured here each issue,
Australian Plants online
Bush Tucker in Central Queensland Lenore Lindsay
Wild foods have always been significant in Central Queensland. They formed the total sustenance of the Aboriginal people; they kept explorers alive, settlers healthy and the local kids happily occupied. Today, after a brief resurgence during the Depression and World War 2, they are being "rediscovered" as the basis of a commercial industry, and there is renewed interest in them generally as part of our shared cultural heritage. Our knowledge of the food plants of the Aborigines is sketchy, relying, as it does, mainly on early European accounts, and the oral traditions of the community as a whole, which includes Aboriginal, Islander and pioneer sources.
Although some use of wild foods and medicines was maintained by the local Aboriginal people, much of the information relating to those from plants has been lost, as they were replaced by other items of overseas origin. Our sources include accounts from the Archer family's papers and oral histories, the explorer Leichhardt's journals, and the little booklet "Notes on some of the Roots, Tubers, Bulbs and Fruits, used as Vegetable Food by the Aboriginals of Northern Queensland, Australia " by French botanist Anthelme Thozet. The establishment of the Dreamtime Cultural Centre and its surrounding gardens on Rockhampton's northern outskirts has continued to fuel the renaissance of interest in our wild food plants.
"....it is fairly difficult to be poisoned by eating plants, with a few notable exceptions."
Most poisonous plants warn adventurous experimenters by their taste, and a few unpleasant moments are the worst one might experience. The dangerous plants are those which are both palatable and toxic such as cycad seeds and some fungi, or in which reaction is delayed, such as cunjevoi. Nevertheless, the prudent forager will approach a new and unknown plant cautiously, first rubbing what appears to be the edible part on the sensitive skin of the inner wrist or elbow. If, after a reasonable time lapse, there is no adverse reaction, it may be touched by the lips or tongue, or bitten, but not chewed or swallowed. If all seems well, a little may be chewed and swallowed. Then wait at least 24 hours to gauge the body's response before sampling larger quantities, or experimenting with preparation and cooking.
Obviously, some good reference books reduce the number of times this procedure is necessary, and a short list of some of those available is included as an appendix. Plant foods are generally available only seasonally, and the season for some is very limited, availability is also governed by habitat, some ecosystems being richer, or offering more variety, than others. From the beaches to the dry interior, each niche has its own particular food products, and in this paper just a few typical examples from each are mentioned.
The Seashore The leaves of many of the common succulent plants of the foreshores are edible, raw, cooked or pickled. These include samphire (Sarcocornia quinqueflora), seablite (Suaedia australe) and pigface (Carpobrotus glaucescens). The fruits of pigface are also known as beach bananas because the flesh inside their thick reddish skin resembles a small salty banana in both taste and appearance. The pandanus (Pandanus sp.) has other uses besides fixing the foredunes. The fruit segments may be
a continuing series
Please note: this guide is a work-in-progress. Information is based on where the species occurs naturally. Micro-climates are important and should be taken into account.
A ? indicates that it is likely the species will grow outside its bio-geographical region. Your input is important.
Map adapted from the Philips' Modern Commonwealth Atlas
Notes - Pepper - Chris Read
Why Farm Bushfoods - Larry Geno
Bush Heritage - Pat & Sim Symons
Watch your Lang'gwij - names & oddities
Get up-to-date info at Bushfoods magazine online