Bush tucker plants have become the next big thing in gardening. There are many native plants that can be used as bush tucker, some of the best produce edible fruits.
One of the tastiest is the midgenberry, a small shrub that produces a profusion of white flowers in spring followed by sweet tasting berries in late summer.
The Australian finger lime is another generous fruiting native that has developed several cultivars and hybrids for commercial production resulting in fruit of different colours, including green, yellow, brown, red, orange and purple.
The small cylindrical fruits pack a punch of flavour and are often referred to as "lime caviar" for the small, bubble-like sacks of fruit inside. Growing on spiky bushes of around two metres depending on the variety, finger limes are adaptable to a wide variety of conditions.
Other popular native garden berries include the lily pili, brush berry and riberry. Their fruits can be eaten fresh, but also make great jams and jellies.
They produce masses of white flowers in late spring, followed by the white, purple, pink fruits in summer and autumn.
The most famous bush tucker is undoubtedly the macadamia - a handsome tree growing to two to 12 metres tall with dark green leaves and an entire or spiny-serrated margin and flowers of white to pink or purple.
The macadamia nut is encased in a very hard shell, but nothing can match its creamy texture and velvet crunch.
For the vegie lovers, warrigal greens are great choice and were one of the first native Australian vegetables to become popular with European settlers. The leaves contain oxates, which can be harmful if consumed in large quantities, so they need to be blanched for three minutes and then rinsed in cold water before using in cooking.
Pepper berry is a plant for the cooler climates that grows to around two metres tall and has very attractive young red stems and thick leathery green leaves.
The leaves, stems and berries have an aromatic peppery taste and when ground with the leaves of the lemon myrtle make the most amazing seasoning for chips, vegetables, chicken, or fish.
Bush tucker plants have sustained Aboriginal people for millennia and are an integral part of our Australian culture, embrace the story and plant some today.
- John Gabriele is a horticulture teacher with a love for green spaces.
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