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Issue 16

Lesser Known Species - 1lily

Geitonoplesium cymosm

Scrambling lily

Photo, John Wrench


This rather vigorous scrambling or twining plant has thin, almost wiry stems and soft, light green leaves which droop very attractively. I

Scrambling lily has a small dark blue or black fruit - edible? I don't think so.

Elaeagnus latifolia

Millaa millaa

Fruit of Millaa millaa (From `Fruits of the Rainforest')


From the Editor


From Mary King


Gold Fields Bushfoods

Wild Harvest News

What's the right price?


Plant Hardiness Zones

Oops column

Lesser known species


Wattleseed Feature

Sell Before You Sow


New Plant Names

Production Info...


Book Review


Web sites



From the List


Millaa millaa (Elaeagnus latifolia). Photo: Star Hungerford

I have heard so much about this fruit that I was delighted when I came across some tubes at our local landcare nursery. Millaa millaa is a climbing, rather scraggly shrub with very attractive elliptical leaves with tapered points and very distinctive, light coloured oil dots. Though I've had some problems with very young plants, once they get to a foot or so, they seem to rush ahead vigorously. In the bush, these plants may find support amongst other plants and thus reach great heights. Given no support, they can form dense thickets. A few stems may grow very long, cascading and arching out from the main plant.

I have planted mine at the base of existing trees and will train them so that the fruit stays within harvesting height.

I must say I had my doubts about this one when first introduced to it - it has no fruit, edible seed or tuber and even the most prolific harvest would hardly make an appetizer for anyone with half an appetite. However, the soft growing tips, when snipped off and added to salad or used as a garnish, have a very subtle asparagus-snow pea taste which is (almost) worth the wait. I now have three of them scrambling along my balcony, getting a little too much sun for their liking but certainly living up to their name of `scrambling'.

The plant looks very similar to Eustrephus latifolius (Wombat berry), without the orange fruit.

Usually found near waterways or in run off or watercourses areas, Millaa millaa needs lots of moisture and very good drainage. My best performing plant is in a large pot on the balcony, with only morning sun and wire mesh to grow along.

Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation Research & Development Plan 2000-2002

The following is an abridged version of interest to the bushfood industry:

Program 1:

Prospective New Industries

This program investigates and develops prospects for new industries in rural and regional Australia.


o Plants, including bushfoods;


1. Identifying and responding to opportunities which could, in time and through appropriate R&D support, be developed into sustainable new industries for rural and regional Australia.

2. Facilitating appropriate research and developing it through industry linkages, interactive communication, organisational structure and strategic plans.

3. Clarifying research needs, priorities and output targets, and establishing R&D programs and/or projects to realise targeted outcomes.

4. Developing appropriate technology and market chain knowledge for industry development.

5. Ensuring that results of the research program are disseminated widely to industry entrants and participants.

Planned outputs

  • o Knowledge, processes and technology that support achievement of the planned outcome.

  • o Knowledge, processes and technology that increases this program's research capability and capacity.

  • Identification of profitable, sustainable options for prospective new enterprises.

  • Market and technical feasibility studies of potential new enterprises.

  • Reports and networks to assist current and prospective investors.

  • Mechanisms for industry involvement in R&D planning.

  • Investment priorities for New Plant Products

  • Increase productivity and processing efficiency.

  • Ensure safe food production and develop new products.

  • Increase market access and export volume.

  • Facilitate industry development.

  • Increase information transfer.

Program 2:

Emerging New Industries

This program expedites the growth and development of emerging new rural and associated processing industries.


Wildflowers and Native Plants


1. Identifying and responding to opportunities which will, in time and through appropriate R&D support, enhance the sustainable growth of emerging industries.

2. Facilitating appropriate research - industry linkages, interactive communication, organisational structures, strategic plans and R&D funding support for development.

3. Clarifying research needs, priorities and output targets, and establishing appropriate R&D sub-programs and/or projects to pursue planned outcomes.

4. Developing knowledge, processes and technology to support the growth of sustainable new industries.

5. Ensuring that the results of research are disseminated widely to industry participants.

6. Providing R&D leadership on strategic industry development issues.

Planned outputs

Knowledge, processes and technology that support achievement of the planned outcome.

Reports and information packages on:

  • technologies that improve productivity,

  • technologies that identify how resources can be used more sustainably, and

  • assessments of new markets and products.

  • Networks that improve industry cohesion, facilitate the flow of information, and contribute to effective production and marketing chains and R&D programs.

  • Plans for commercialisation of products and processes.

  • Investment priorities for Wildflowers and Native Plants

  • Understand and develop markets.

  • Improve existing products and develop new ones

  • Provide profitable, sustainable production systems.

  • Enhance the industry's human capital.

Find the full reports at:


Further information on RIRDC funding

RIRDC Completed Projects in 1998-1999 and Research in Progress as at June 1999

New Plant Products:

Project Title:

Food safety of Australian plant bushfoods

RIRDC Project No.: AGP-1A

Start: 15/01/98. Finish: 31/12/00

Researcher: Prof Ron Wills

PO Box 77


Phone: 02 4348 4140

Fax: 02 4348 4148




The project will generate a report on:

* detail endogenous anti-nutritive factors that may present a health hazard in the major plant species currently used in the industry.

* report on laboratory investigations into the presence of the major potential hazards.

* advise on a protocol for the safe selection and usage of bushfoods.

Current Progress

The aim of the project is to provide information on anti-nutritive factors that may be present in the major plant species marketed by the Australian native bush foods industry. This information will facilitate development of quality assurance programs for the industry and public perception of bush food products as inherently safe.

A thorough literature review has been conducted of available information pertinent to the safety of the major bush food species with respect to anti-nutritive factors.

Information on the actual or potential anti-nutritive factors was obtained from reference libraries, industry knowledge and specialist chemical, botanical and medical literature as well as commercial and technical Internet sites. This search suggests that few of the commercial bush food species are likely to require special care to ensure safe use as normally consumed in mixed diets.

The second phase of the study will carry out tests on samples of the parts of plants actually used as bush foods. The new major constituents identified as requiring analyses are the cyanogens, saponins, alkaloids, oxalates and for a limited number of species, potential undesirable constituents in the essential oils. This first phase of testing will be a general qualitative screening for these classes compounds, and analytical methods have been developed. A range of samples for testing are being collected at the appropriate harvest period of the year. Analyses has commenced on harvested material.

Project Title

Innovative Products from Indigenous Australian Bushfoods

RIRDC Project No.: CFO-1A

Start: 15/02/99 Finish: 31/01/02

Researcher: Dr Michael Forbes-Smith, CRC for Food Industry Innovation, Dept of Food Science and Technology, University of NSW, Sydney NSW 2052

Phone: 02 9385 5788

Fax: 02 9385 5931

Email: m.forbes.@unsw.edu.au


* To evaluate isolates from identified bushfoods * To develop novel and improved foods and food ingredients currently unexploited across the food industry both nationally and internationally leading to a significant increase in demand for the raw material with subsequent growth of the Australian Bushfood Industry.

Current Progress

The work is progressing as follows:

* extension of postharvest shelf-life: modified atmosphere packaging systems are currently being assessed to determine the optimum storage requirements of fresh mountain pepper and warrigal greens

* bushfood flavour research: initial studies have focussed on developing GC-MS* methods for the analysis and development of flavour components of lemon myrtle and lemon aspen

* application/product development: oxidation of flavours was determined as a possible cause of lemon myrtle oil instability, when incorporated into further valued food products such as mustards. Methods to monitor oxidative events (eg. peroxides) under accelerated test conditions are presently being evaluated. Depending on the cause of degradation, methods will be developed to maintain the characteristics of lemon myrtle oil flavour, possibly by the addition of natural antioxidants

* microbiological issues: assessment of possible microbiological contamination in akudjura (ground bush tomato) and ground mountain pepper is underway * novel antioxidants and antimicrobial compounds: certain bushfood sources (eg. lemon aspen) have been identified to potentially contain antioxidants and antimicrobial compounds (research to begin July 1999)

Project Title

The prospects of commercialising indigenous Boab tubers as vegetables

RIRDC Project No.: DAW-95A

Start: 1/02/99. Finish: 30/07/01

Researcher: Mr Peter Johnson, Agriculture Western Australia

Locked Bag No 4, Bentley Delivery WA 6983

Phone: 08 9166 4026

Fax: 08 9166 4066

Email: johnsonp@agric.wa.gov.au


* To conduct a primary investigation into Boab tuber to determine its commercial potential. 

* Provide an information package as the basis to establish an industry, thereby reducing the risk for investors and primary producers.

Current Progress

A small germination trial was undertaken to ascertain seed viability, germination time and possible production time. Results germination percentage > 90%, potential production time could be as little at 6 to 8 weeks.

Seed has been collected and a small trial plot has been established on a growers property: From this established plot samples will be collected for mineral analysis and sent to restaurants for sampling.

Project Title

Development of an integrated pest management program (IPM)

for the control of quandong moth in quandong orchards

RIRDC Project No.: SAR-4A

Start: 1/06/97. Finish: 30/06/01

Researcher: Dr Peter Bailey,

South Australian Research and

Development Institute

Entomology Section

GPO Box 397


Phone: 08 8303 9537

Fax: 08 8303 9542

Email: bailey.peter@pi.sa.gov.au


* To deliver a package which enables quandong growers to control quandong moth with minimum use of insecticides.

Current Progress

Continued fortnightly sampling of quandong trees at Quorn and Sedan in South Australia is providing a second season of data on the population trends of the quandong moth. At this stage the generation times appear to be following similar trends to those found for the first season of data. Quandong moth larvae were again found in quandong flower buds and developing fruit providing further evidence that the moth population exists on quandong trees all year round, with numbers increasing as the fruit develop to maturity.

A field trial with dimethoate, the chemical temporality registered for use on quandong moth is being conducted in a quandong orchard at Whyalla, South Australia. The primary focus of this trial is to examine spray timing, and at a later stage in the season will also examine residue levels. Alternative insecticides to dimethoate will be trialed in the laboratory in the coming months. Those showing potential for management of quandong moth will be trialed in the field next season.

Surveys of natural enemies of the quandong moth and other insect fauna associated with quandong trees are continuing. Rearing techniques for the quandong moth, and subsequently the natural enemies are still being investigated.

The postgraduate fellow working on the project, Kaye Ferguson, maintains regular contact with quandong growers throughout the state, and will again present findings at the annual Australian Quandong Industry Association conference scheduled for August 1999.

Project Title

Potential for seed gum production within Australia

RIRDC Project No.: UCQ-12A

Start: 1/07/98. Finish: 30/11/00

Researcher: A/Prof Kerry Walsh, Plant Science Group, Research Laboratory, Central Queensland

Rockhampton, QLD 4702

Phone: 07 4930 9707

Fax: 07 4930 6536

Email: k.walsh@cqu.edu.au


* Report on quality of gum when used in combination with other gelling agents (eg: carageenan) relative to other gelling agents (eg locust bean gum); with characterisation of the chemical structure of the gum.

* Report on the presence of the toxin anthroaquinone within the plant product.

* Preparation of preliminary cost-benefit analysis.

* Botanical description of species including breeding system.

* Characterisation of ecology of species.

* recommendations for cropping systems (with cost analysis).

Current Progress

Central Queensland University, is investigating the commercial viability of food gum production from a native Australian plant. A phenological study of flowering and fruiting has been completed (which may be useful in an amenity horticulture sense, as the plant has aesthetic value). A study has been undertaken to determine the limits of distribution of the species, and to allow predictions of where the plant might be grown. Work is underway with respect to further characterisation of the gum, data analysis of the phenology and limits to distribution study, and analysis of genetic diversity. A preliminary costing of production (economic analysis), based on data from the field studies, indicates that commercial production requires substantial increases on the yield of seed achieved on `wild' stands.

This study has also delivered information on the distribution of the `peanut bruchid', an insect pest which infests the seed of the plant under consideration. We surmise that the insect was introduced to Australia in tamarind or bauhinia seed, and is spreading -infesting native species. This insect is a serious pest of peanuts on other continents.

Project Title

Characterisation of antiviral compounds in Australian bush medicines

RIRDC Project No.: USA-5A

Start: 1/07/97. Finish: 30/08/98

Researcher: Dr Robert Flower, University of South Australia

GPO Box 2471


Phone: 08 8302 2236

Email: robert.flower@unisa.edu.au


* The isolation and identification of the chemical structure of antiviral compounds from Australian bush medicine plants and thus development of demand for cultivation of these plants.

Current Progress

A database of plants used as a source of medicines used in treatment of symptoms indicative of viral infection was assembled. Extracts from 40 different species were screened for antiviral activity against three different viruses. The most active extracts were Pterocaulon sphacelatum and Dianella longifolia var. grandis.

The extracts of Euphorbia australis and Scaevola spinescens active against cytomegalovirus. Extracts of Eremophila latrobei subsp. glabra and Pittosporum phylliraeoides var. microcarpa exhibited antiviral activity against Ross River Virus.P. sphacelatum, yielded the antiviral flavonoid chrysosplenol a 4'-hydroxy-3-methoxyflavone, one of a group of compounds known to be potent and specific inhibitors of replication of picornaviruses including the most frequent causative agent of the common cold.

Activity-guided fractionation of the root extract of D. longifolia resulted in the identification of chrysophanic acid (1,8-dihydroxy-3-methyl-anthraquinone) as the anti-polioviral component. Anthraquinones have not previously been found to inhibit non-enveloped viruses.

Chrysophanic acid inhibited an early stage in the poliovirus replication cycle and it may act as an inhibitor of proteases cleaving the picornaviral olyprotein. E. australis yeilded polyphenolic compounds responsible for the anti-HCMV activity. In this study known and novel antiviral compounds were isolated from Australian native plants traditionally used by Aboriginal people as a source of medicines.

Stop Press:

RIRDC Update

RIRDC will hold a workshop for the industry during the first quarter of this year to discuss:

1) bushfood R&D priorities and 

2) the role and composition of the advisory panel in RIRDC decision making. Invitations will be issued to known bushfood associations and groupings and to other relevant players so that a broad range of opinion can be canvassed. In the meantime, the current bushfood advisory panel have been stood down with appreciation for their contributions and all applicants for funding have been advised that their applications will not be considered until after the outcomes of the workshop are to hand.

Dr Margaret Bailey has withdrawn her proposal concerning developing quality assurance safety and marketing standards for the bushfood industry.

Funds have been set aside for bushfood R&D in 2001/2002.

In essence the Corporation is giving the industry an opportunity to update what it would like to see done in the way of R&D and a chance to better understand how the system works and where the accountabilities rest.

Dr David Evans, RIRDC

Ph: 02 4454 3039


If you would like to have your say and you're not a known bushfood association, grouping or other relevant player, let RIRDC know that you want input to this workshop.

Dear Essential Harvests, and our Bushfood Industry participants,

So what can WE do to help ourselves? I would like to put forward the following suggestions for us to look at:

1. Prices - reasonable, not cheep, not cheaper, and definitely not ridiculous. Probably aiming to match the organic movement, which does add a small bonus for itself and the effort taken.

2. Quality - must be the highest, being a new product in the market place. Note, manufacturers do not need visual quality, but very high quality for taste, texture and smell, all the things that make our bushfoods unique. Because fruit deteriorates in storage, new-season and fresh is best. Farmers please contact your buyers before harvest
season so that you can make arrangements as to their requirements and packaging. Cleanliness of produce and equipment used is a high priority.

3. Health Dept regulations and standards (present), and look at new ANZFA standards coming our way soon.

4. Records - needed by manufacturers, to include information from the farm.

5. Names - accurate

6. Description - adequate. This is a very important courtesy to the potential market and can be used to great advantage if we wish to see our Industry expand. Be proud if you have a good product and let everyone know!!!!! It IS a problem when even people enthusiastic about Bushfood do not know what is being offered.

7. Quantity - please plant more and more and more. BUT do a lot of research and planning first. Set up your farm to nurture, and also economically, with harvesting techniques in mind. Talk to as many people as possible, read the research and books available, make decisions to suit your own circumstances (financial + size of farm ability to handle seasonal jobs + market forces

I'll quote here from Chris Read of Damien Pepper: 'A useful rule of thumb which should be employed by investors in any novel primary production scheme should be to halve the quoted product prices and annual 'per plant' yields for plantation schemes and multiply payback periods by four.
We hope the bushfood industry does not become another tax-payer funded rural fantasy in the tradition of the exotic plant and animal industries.' - New Crops Newsletter Issue 10, 1998, Qld Uni.
I would like to add: If you are going to be dealing with public servants, add t-i-m-e, most will be very helpful but they do not seem to understand our wish to get things done asap. But you still have to abide by requirements. If you are dealing with contractors (plumbers, etc), f.o.r.g.e.t t.i.m.e, some are excellent, but some don't even bother turning up.
The same magazine had an excellent article by Gil Freeman that gives an outline that farmers and value-adders would find useful. If anyone wants a copy, I will ask Gil if I can reprint it.

8. Innovation - the foods shared at the meetings of the Qld Bushfood Assoc have been outstanding and show great potential for our Industry.
Some would not be viable for manufacturers but show great variety and uses for the unique experiences of our bushfoods.

Let's challenge ourselves to do even better than the best, and be successful as well as enjoying ourselves.

from Mary King jrmrk@bytesite.com.au
phone 07 3284 2202