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Issue 9: Sep-Oct 1998

 

The wonder of Raspberry

Peter Lewis N.D., H,M.D., S.M.D., J.R(QUAL).

When I think of Raspberry, my thoughts float over to Valentine's Day. Why is this you may ask? Valentine's Day goes hand in hand with the symbol of love, a beautiful rose, indeed a perfect way to flutter the heart of the woman you adore.

Herbal lore runs very deep for a traditional herbalist, where the virtue of the plant holds more intrigue than its various constituents. Raspberry is one such herb, which belongs to one of the most important plant families in the world, the Rosaceae or Rose family.

Based on non-Australian raspberries, there is no finer group of plants for matters of the heart. The gracious Raspberry is a heart tonic which has few equals. Jam on toast every morning will contribute toward a retirement spanning many years. It is certainly not a panacea, but it will contribute to maintaining a healthy heart. When you consider there are approximately one hundred and eighty billion red blood cells floating around an average adult body, with their load of oxygen and nutrients, no wonder this plant family is so cherished.

Is it not fascinating that Mother Nature in all her wisdom produces a luscious red fruit for our red blood. And the white flower stands guard over the plant just as our white blood cells do in the human body.

The leaves of all Wild raspberry are an astringent, being an agent which will allay discharges by its influence over albumin, a plasma protein for those who need a scientific touch. Astringents have an effect whereby toxic build up in tissues is reduced to varying degrees. Its astringent effect will assist in the elimination of morbid toxins from a sluggish bowel or muscles. Raspberry leaf tea is esteemed for the final three to four months prior to birth for an expectant mother, aiding to reduce childbirth pains. A cooled tea is known to be beneficial for conjunctivitis, when the eye is bathed in it.

Raspberry leaf tea can be most beneficial for a sore throat, reducing the associated inflammation. Perhaps above and beyond any other native, this herb has enormous potential for a grower to supply a herbal extract company. A little innovation and you could be on your way.

And raspberry fruit are very cooling and refreshing to those who may like to investigate preparing it into vinegar, syrup, drink or even a wine for connoisseurs. The darker raspberry has another potential for being used as a dye, worthy of investigation.

A very popular product is Raspberry Jam, being very marketable at appropriate outlets.

Now that you have been informed of the multitudes of virtues of Raspberry, be warned. The old saying that you can have too much of a good thing stands true. The basic trait of Raspberry is cold and dry, giving it the astringent effect. Too much astringent foods, when overdone can lead to constipation and even stiff joints. It is a very marketable product in so many different areas so I wish you well if you take the crop on. Raspberry preferably does need rich loamy soil.

Please write to me with a self addressed and stamped envelope if you are interested in a herbal extract company.

Peter Lewis, ND., H.M.D., S.M.D., J.P.(QUAL).

13 Timberidge Court, WAMURAN, OLD, 4512.

Atherton Raspberry - a Bushfood Performer

Larry Geno

Of the many raspberries, Atherton raspberry (Rubus fraxinifolius)is a real performer. An early fruiting (precocious), high quality native food with much potential. Originating in far North Queensland and introduced further south by Peter Hardwick of the late Wilderness Foods in the late 80's, the Atherton raspberry occurs at forest and stream edges as a rapid coloniser. A typical rubus fraxinifolius grows canes the first summer which then set bracts of flowers and fruit the following autumn. Very vigorous, it fruits in the first winter, followed by rampant suckering and proliferation of wide, arching canes adapted to fighting for sunlight in a competitive rain forest environment Such plants need a fertile site and diligent discipline through tillage, slashing and hedging. In return, they fruit for a period of up to 8 months, yielding a pick every 2 - 3 days. Hedge widths should be such that your are not reaching into the hedge to harvest the fruit, The fruit is hairless and easily plucked from the thorny canes, if well managed. While relatively insipid, they can become sweet and there are some interesting seed oils which may be of condiment value. Additionally, like most Rubus, there is considerable potential for medicinal and tea use of the leaves. We believe that many of the medicinal uses common in the European raspberry will apply but research needs to be done. Of course, they have some problems but few that are unmanageable. The fruit drops easily in winds or if you are slow to get back to pick. Rigorous attention to timely management is advised and there is some concern about rampancy and escape into the wild (fortunately, in contrast to the furry local native, their smooth leaves are quite attractive to macropods and cattle!) In NE NSW few diseases or pests have been noted, mostly thrips in the leaves if the plants are over-fertilised or over-irrigated. There is also some late season (spring) interest from green vegetable and fruit spotting bugs. The only bird interest seems to be occasional use for mating and displays but not ongoing predation. They are well worth trying out of frosty areas on the east coast. We manage to pick 2kg/hour and market to the Sydney market for a gross return of $32/ hour. During winter, there are few other berries to compete. For those interested, we stock plants and dried or frozen fruit. Some improved selections are still under observation.

Larry Geno Northern Rivers Bush Tucker Foods

0749 363 607.

American Wild Food Association

John King

I had been planning a trip to my ancestral home and decided to search the net for things to do. On the West Virginia State Web site I found two functions that I thought were a must. One was the Wild Food Weekend, the other was the Road-kill Cook-off One serious fun, one tongue-in-cheek fun.

The American wild food scene differs from ours in that their wild foods have been exploited for five hundred years, and are now the mainstays of most of the world's cuisines. Consider Italian food without tomatoes and peppers, or chillies, or the Irish without the potato. They are long past the commercial drive and competition and can enjoy their wild food on a purely social basis. Something we in Australia should look at. They started on a survival basis, have gone through the exploitation with a sense of social usage, and are back to the purely social usage.

Enough philosophy, and on to the fun.

This was the Thirty-first Annual Wild food Weekend. It was held at the North Bend State Park, in West Virginia, and was sponsored by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Registration started on Friday afternoon, followed by a tour of the park narrated by Kathy and Angel. The full program started from 7pm with the introductions and greetings. This was followed by a talk by Dot Montgillion, who has a cottage industry business preparing traditional herbs, jams, jellies and marmalades. I felt a lot of sympathy with Dot's description of her travails in getting her kitchen Health- Department certified.

Dot's talk was followed by the handing out of the results of the Wild Foods Contest. This is a cooking contest requiring at least three wild foods to be used in each dish to win an award, depending on the proportions in relation to other ingredients. After the results were handed down it was into tasting of all the entries. Here is the list as best as I can remember. Banana and Black Walnut Cake, Apple and Black Walnut Cake, Venison Chuck Wagon Steak,

Wild Grape Wine, Chicory and Acorn Iced Coffee, Wineberry Jelly Roll, Paw Paw cup cakes (a wild fruit related to the custard apple) with Black Walnut and Brown Sugar Icing, Mixed Greens, Jalapeno Cornbread, Watermelon Rind Preserves, Grape Juice, Lincoln Logs (Chocolate, Paw Paw and Black Walnut), Crab Apple Cake with Black Walnut and Paw Paw Icing, Wild Tenderloin and Red Beans and Deer Salad Sandwiches. I think I have listed most. of them, it was hard to fight through the hungry hordes to do a little journalism, and eat at the same time. The recipes are all collected for inclusion in a book compiled by the President, Edelene Wood. There was much discussion till late after a good feed.

Saturday's agenda started with field trips looking at what might be found in the local area. There was much interesting discussion on the uses of various plants, and on the problems of introduced plants. One of which was the Briar Rose. This took care of the morning, and was followed by the preparation for the smorgasboard for the afternoon. This turned out to be a real treat. There were about 65 different dishes laid out on a long table. From main courses to deserts, smoked trout to milk weed soup, and four varieties of ice cream churned on the spot.

The day's activities started again at eight that night with an enlightening talk by Dr. Frank Porter on his plant nursery and the eflèct and impact of the El Nino weather pattern on local wild and cultivated plants. They followed the talk with the presentation of awards for the weekend.

Sunday started with a church service by the State Park statI~ followed by a short workshop, a walk around the park, and a farewell barbecue lunch.

A truly memorable weekend of sharing, of food, of ideas, of recipes and the meeting and making of new friends. If you are in the States in September, try and make this weekend a must.

North Bend State Park Cairo, West Virginia

Next Issue - John King brings us the Annual Road Kill Cook off.

Observations

1. Warrigal Greens Tetragonía tetragonoides

The Ed.

warrigal

The Editor

I began growing 'greens' about two years ago.

This scrambling ground cover is reasonably fast growing, gaining a good sized leaf in less than 3-4 months. Though I've read that they're difficult to propagate from seed, I have found that, once you've got them, you've got them! Here are a few things I've observed:

* It's difficult to keep them 'disciplined'. They are scramblers by nature and, unless you prune them back to make pathways, they will scramble up any obstacle they come across.

* those which have found something to scramble up seem to have larger-thicker leaves than the ground vines. Next season I will put in rows of short (500mm or so) trellises for them to clamber over.

* mine have preferred semi- shade positions (my best patch gets morning to mid afiernoon sun) and certainly do best in moist areas

* geese can cause havoc if they decide to dance in the warrigal patch - the leaves 'bruise' easily and don't really recover.

* I add no fertiliser to my patches but have reasonably good, basaltic soil. I would miagine that, like spinach, greens benefit from some form of nitrogenous fertiliser. I believe that they prefer an alkaline soil but have no first hand experience

* My greens tend to start setting seed pretty quickly after leaf maturity.

* I always harvest in the morning and have found the following system works best for me:

- set up a post-harvest table with large containers for leaf and stems. (I have a bucket of water for cleaning leaves)

- I gather into a polystyrene brocolli box, using sharp scissors to cut the stems with the largest leaves. Many buyers will not accept leaf and stem and I supply my greens as leaf only, - cutting the leaves from the stems is a fairly labour intensive business but can be quite sociable if you've got a pruning partner -

- Leaves are cut over the leafbox and allowed to drop in. Those with splash soil or mulch are dipped in the bucket of water.

I keep all the stems in a separate box. These are thrown wherever I want a new bed of greens. Much of the seed, even ifgreen when harvested, will mature viably. I also keep a pile of stems in a dry spot to allow the seeds to mature - these I package and use as give-aways at shows and the such.

It is important to ensure that no seed - not even the very small, immature seeds - are included with the leaves. They are hard and sharp and generally guaranteed to spoil the good impression this pot herb should make.

I minimise the time between harvesting and delivery if! can and always do my harvest in 'batches' so that the leaf can be processed and refligerated ~thin half an hour of harvest.

I haven't been able to talk the local restaurants into purchasing the frozen product but 'greens' freeze as well as spinach and, With the end of the good season coming up, I'll begin to freeze mygreens. Boil the greens and then wring them out very thoroughly in a twisted tea towel. Package and freeze.

I know it's supposed to be a year- round species but, come the hot weather, my greens yellow off and generally shrivel. At this stage I pull them up, placing the stems on a large ground sheet out of the weather to collect the copious amount ofseed, Rotation gardening will be difficult, as I haven't been able to stop re-seeding. Then again, I haven't tried sheet mulching, as I've been quite happy to have a continuous bed of greens.

Next season will be the third and I will definitely sheet mulch and spell the area.

As an experiment, I have scattered seed in a damp, shady area near a small creek at the bottom of the block. Some of the plants (usually those with too little sun) suffer munching from some flying pest - I have not yet found any grubs, caterpillars or other pests and, to date, have had no diseases.

Price for leaf varies between $6 and $8 a kilo.

Standards:

In line with the magazine's policy of "touting' some suggested standards, I put forward the following:

Grade A:

clean, unblemished leaf, no seed, no stem, no pest evidence Grade B:

Clean, unblemished leaf, no seed, no stern, some pest evidence Grade C:

clean, unblemished leaf and stern, no large mature seeds

Grade D:

clean, unblemished leaf, stem and seed

Grade E:

Clean leaf, stem and seed, some yellowing, some pest evidence Compost grade:

Any that doesn't meet the above.

 

Next Issue: 6 ways not to harvest Warrigal Greens seed - and one which sort of works...

Growing Bushloods?

Share your experiences - no matter how small, large, unusual or personal - we all have a lot to leam~

SUCKERS SEX AND SEEDLINGS

Plant breeding for Quandong growers.

By Dr Barbara R Randell; Randell Environmental Enterprises Pty Ltd

In the last issue, Barbara Randall looked at the plant reproduction process (with an emphasis on Santalum acuminatum. This issue, she goes further....

Inbreeding & Outbreeding

You have probably realised that the structure of a typical flowei, and ofquandong flowers, seems to encourage pollination of the flower by pollen from its own anthers. In fact, the consequences of such SELF-POLLINATION (or indeed, pollination by pollen from other flowers on the same or a closely related plant - INBREEDING ) are usually bad. Some of these consequences are:

* higher death rates of offspring and fewer adult offspring

* higher rates of inherited malformations

* lowered sexual fertility of offspring

* offspring less variable (compare with asexual offspring above)

Plants which prevent selfing/inbreeding (OUTBREEDING) produce more variable, more numerous and healthier offspring than those which allow it.. so most plants have evolved measures to prevent inbreeding. However, when self-pollination is prevented, pollination cannot be guaranteed, and an isolated plant could entirely fail to reproduce. So we could summarise by saying that each plant species has to strike a balance between the benefits and drawbacks of inbreeding and outbreeding (table 1)

So far, we have looked at basic information about sexual reproduction. Now we need to discuss some of the finer details ofbehaviour in individual species.

Types of sexual behaviour in some Australian native plants

Most Australian native plants are outbreeders, they discourage inbreeding by using one or more of the following techniques:

* separation in time - ensuring that male and female sex cells of the same flower are mature at different times, in eg. Acacias, females are mature before males (protogynous - the uncommon pattern); while Eucalyptus have males before females (protandrous - the common pattern). However, because many Acacias and Eucalypts are trees, flowering over several weeks, the sex cells of different flowers on the same tree may well be fertile at the same time.

* separation in space by having males produced by one plant, and females by another plant. This may result from the whole population being unisexual ie. either male or female plants eg in unisexual

Casuarinas; Pimelea serpyllfolia, or with some plants in the population being female (male sterile) and others being bisexual eg in Ptilotus obovatus;

* by having genetic races - gene systems that prevent the offspring of inbreeding episodes reaching maturity crassi,folium and species.

Some natives are inbreeders, they ensure this happens by:

* placing pollen on the stigma before the flower opens (ie before other pollen can arrive) eg.

Calectasia, Isotonia. Others fall back on self-pollination if all else fails:

* The stigma touching the anthers as the flower wilts.. daisies Breeders working to improve

Quandongs need to understand which ofthese techniques occur in this species. If we refer back to Table I, an ideal breeding system would have some inbreeding (offspring guaranteed) and some outbreeding (some high quality offspring). It would thus include the best aspects of both inbreeding and outbreeding. The disadvantage of in breeding or asexuality (formation of some offspring of poorer quality) would be outweighed.

Table 1 Advantages and Disadvantages of breeding systems

Inbreeding

pollination guaranteed high quality offspring

poor quality offspring (high diversity)

(low diversity) pollination not guaranteed

eg Stylidiuen Thysano Ins

At least two plant groups in Australia have developed such an 'ideal' system, the shrubby dwarf Casuarinas of South-East Australia (including near Keith), and the arid-zone Cassia/Senna shrubs. Both produce some seedlings sexually, and some asexually.

Breeding new varieties

If you want to breed new forms of quandong in practice, this means choosing the plant to act as the female parent, selecting some of its flowers to work on; removing their own stamens before they shed pollen (and preventing access to other pollen); dusting the stigmas with pollen from the plant you chose as the male parent and immediately sealing the flowers in a paper bag to prevent any other pollen arriving. Remember that the best breeding programs have a high failure rate, so expect to pollinate many flowers to get any worthwhile results. But your success rate will rise if you know something about the flowers and pollen you are dealing with; ie the techniques we have just discussed.

When are sex cells fertile?

This may vary between sunrise and sunset, eg different races of Avocado produce fertile pollen at very precise times of day. Their stigmas are receptive at different times. How long do the sex cells remain fertile?

Stylidium, females have been shown to remain viable for 3 weeks; Eucalyptus pollen survives frozen for months; many species have shorter life-spans.

Is it an inbreeder or outbreeder?

Evidence to hand suggests Quandong is usually an outbreeder; anecdotal evidence suggests some trees are self-pollinated.

Are there genetic breeding races involved? ie. Can any male be used as the pollen source, or are some males unsuccessful on sonic females?

Is Polyploidy Possible?

Most animals and plants have only 2 copies of each gene (di-ploid or 2-ploid), one derived from the mother the other from the father. Many plants are known to have multiple sets of all their genes (poly-ploid or many-ploid). In those plants where polyploidy is known, it has many beneficial consequences. For example; polyploid Eremophyla glabra (emu bush) can grow in ecological situations where its diploid relatives cannot. Leaves and other organs of Themeda (kangaroo grass) are larger than in the diploid; genetic barriers preventing successful crosses between species can disappear, eg: Stylidium and Senna. These are all characteristics which might be useful in breeding a fruit crop plant.

Can polyploidy in Quandong be recognised and/or encouraged - perhaps in tissue culture?

Suggestions for breeding new strains

As a botanist, with general know!edge, but no specific knowledge of the situation in Quandong, I make the following suggestions

Try to breed Quandong with other species of Santalum. Probably this will be very difficult and may be impossible, but the benefits will richly reward the efforts. The crosses I suggest, and the benefits that will probably flow from them, are:

1. with geographical races S acuminatum (offspring should show greater general variability)

2. with S. murrayanum (offspring should show variability in size of fruit, with some larger than the current fruit size)

3. with S. lanceolatum (some offspring should show variable flavour)

4. with other species of Santalum for other characters The offspring will be very variable; many of them will have no useful characters and will be rejected, but a few may be suitable to be selected as parents in further crosses.

Like other trees, quandongs will normally take some years to reach fruiting, and this will slow down the breeding program. However, I know that CS]IRO has perfected a chemical which induces eucalypts to flower and fruit when very young (I believe at about 12 months). This chemical may speed up the quandong breeding program considerably. Especially, look for and preserve polyploidy in any of the offspring.

'Plant breeding for quandong growers.' By Dr Barbara R Randell

7 Hastings Rd; Sth Brighton 5048; Ph/fax (08) 8296 2832

Contents
Hibiscus & Hibiscus Like Plants - Colleen Keena
Formation of National Body - from the Editor
Letters
Research Results
More on a National Body - Margaret Bailey
More on Hibiscus - Colleen Keena
Not Just a Beautiful Bloom - Colleen Keena
A Look at Standards - some suggestions from the editor
Simplicity of Good Design - A look at a bushfood plantation
News
Small is beautiful - John Wrench
The Atherton Raspberry - Larry Geno, grower
Wonder of Raspberry - Larry Geno
American Wild Foods - John King in the US
Observations: Warrigal Greens - The Editor learns by experience
Suckers, Sex and Seedlings - Dr Barbara Randall on the Quandong
Marketing the Bush food Industry - Vie Cherikoff reports
Comment - Larry Geno
Book reviews - 'You can have your permaculture and eat it too'
Book review - The Quandong Recipe Book
What's Fruiting Now?
Famous Palates (Olivia Newton-John etc)
More research News
Recipes

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