Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Time to guard those King Orchards, giant blue waterlilies and lomandras, this discussion's all about kicking off a new group, focusing on edible native plants. We won't forget about our coat of arms, crock and fish too ... they're all farmed. It's all points of interest about our big back yard's original market.

Firstly however, a focus on the plants. There's a bit of chatter about natives which have (and are) making it into our gardens. To give a little direction, I've listed some wider subjects that many of you may wish to chat about.

  • Edible native plants suitable for small and large gardens, pots & troughs. 
  • Safety with Bush-foods.
  • Edible native plants we may already have, wittingly or unwittingly.
  • Edible native plants  you'd like to try (growing or eating).
  • Practical & companion? native plants.
  • Good trivia about other edible natives that are maybe less suited to the garden.

Sometimes, I find it tempting to put rose colour glasses on, when discovering another native with a description of bush tucker, but as many of you have probably found out about bush tucker ... with some of these foods, you either have to be starving or you need to eat the rock (other ingredient in the pot).

So I encourage everyone to tell all about what you have encountered, discovered or studied about our great back yard foods.

Starting the Chat ...

Bush Food Safety

Any additional and updated findings encouraged. (I applaud the CSIRO and RIRDC for their well grounded and scientific research).

Below is a 2001 article created by RIRDC regarding bush food safety. 



Although the document was published in 2001, I find it (above) a good reference for 'bush foods listings' in general.

Please tell us more!

Macadamias have many times appeared on the site, and so they should, as Brisbane is almost centre of its original 600km East Coast habitation. Some_Info_On_Macadamia 

PigFace, Davidson Plums, warrigal greens and many more have recently been posted. So it's probably time to give these guys a nice home on Brisbane Local Food.

There's only so much room in a suburban back yard, so it will be great to know the space, water and soil you may need to consider, as well as the results that can be achieved when growing native foods. So please chat, correct, add, and link away!

Below - Photo of Midgem Berry

Native foods we grow, under improved cultivation & existing farmed natives.

Below is a list that will only grow in size (when prompted), as I've just listed a few names that came to mind.



Lemmon Scented Ironwood/Lemmon Myrtle


Aniseed Myrtle


Mountain Pepper


Desert Quangdong (not to be confused with Blue or Eumumdi Quangdong)


Finger Lime


Citrus Australis


Davidson's Plum


Kakadu PlumTerminalia ferdinandiana

This one's big on potential health benefits ... more info and links to come ...

Kakadu Plum - CSIRO

Terminalia ferdinandiana - Daleys Fruit Tree Nursery

Kakadu Plum - Wild Harvest NT


Burdekin Plum - Pleiogynium timorense

Pleiogynium timorense - Daleys Fruit Tree Nursery

Pleiogynium timorense - Fair Dinkum Seeds


Black Pine/Plum Pine


Atherton Red Back Native GingerAlpinia Caerulea 

alpinia-caerulea - Fair Dinkum Seeds


Native Hibiscus - Hibiscus Heterophyllus Lutea

Hibiscus Heterophyllus Lutea - Fair Dinkum Seeds


Green berry Solanum opacum - under improved cultivation by Leigh Nankervis

Solanum Opacum - Fair Dinkum Seeds


Winter apple/berry Eromophila debris - thanks Leigh Nankervis

Eromophila debris - Fair Dinkum Seeds


Native Sweet Sandpaper Fig - Ficus Opposita- thanks Dave Riley

Ficus Opposita - Fair Dinkum Seeds


Native Wild RaspberryRubus Rosifolius

Native Raspberries - ANPSA

Rubus Rosifolius - Fair Dinkum Seeds

Atherton Raspberry - Rubus Probus

The distribution of Rubus Probus covers Northern NSW to Northern QLD

Rubus Probus - ANPSA

Native Raspberries - ANPSA - Tony Bean

Rubus Probus - Daylies Fruit Tree Nursery

Rubus Probus - BLF

Other Native Raspberries

Native Raspberries - ANPSA - Tony Bean


Ruby Saltbush - thanks Dave Riley - 

Ruby Saltbush ANBG GOV - Ruby Saltbush NSW DPI - Ruby Saltbush ANPSA

Ruby Saltbush (covered in field guide) - thanks Dave Riley - SOE Townsville


Warrigal Greens thanks many blf members! ... this is the one that triggered the creation of this particular blf group - watch this space


Blue Lillipilli - thanks Florance -

Florance's summary (below) creates good incentive for more info to be added -

'I had this in a small pot, and thought it died a couple of times, but shoot back from the base as soon as I started watering it.  This one deserve a seperate entry because it suppose to be the tastiest lillipilly and the leaves are fragrant.  It is now in a slightly bigger pot and is watered regularly, hopefully it will one day produce some fruits.'


Lillipilli(further sp/var to be clarified) - thanks Florance -

Florance's words below creates good incentive for more info to be found 

'Get lots of dimples on the leaves, and not a lot of fruits.  Grew quickly in the ground though, but died after I dug it up and try to pot it.
However, I've picked some and made jelly from a very productive tree in a townhouse complex common area which I suspect is a hybrid.'


Please tell us more!


Native foods less known or farmed ... (Please feel free to correct me, maybe I should not separate the plants into more known and less known)

We have our own bananas!

Musa acuminatasubsp. banksii

Musa jackeyi (Extremely rare)

Native Banana Link

Narrow leaf gardenia - Atractocarpus chartaceus Thanks C White, I never knew it made food!

Velvet myrtle - Lenwebbia prominens - Thanks again C White

Native Mulberry - Pipturus argenteus - Wow! another new one - Thank you C White

Please tell us more!

For a bit of sensation ...

More Super than Super Fruit - Australian Antioxidants

(CSIRO Ref. required) Both the Kakadu Plum and the Burdekin Plum have more antioxidants than blueberries. With it being difficult to find a contender to the Kakadu Plum on a world scale.


Australian Fish Top The Charts on Omega Threes 

The Australian Barcoo River Grunter, grown as an aquaculture fish and marketed as the Jade Perch, had the highest DHA Omega 3 Fatty Acids than all other fish tested by the CSIRO.

Running in 2nd place was the Sawfish, with Alantic Salmon coming in 3rd. Closely followed by another Australian Native and aquaculture fish, the Silver Perch (4th).

The native plants/fruits that I eat, are ones which are purchased as 'bush foods/bush tucker/Australian native foods' from outlet nurseries. I am not a forager for bush tucker or exotic weeds. Call me a scaredy_cat :)

I am in no way a bush tucker expert and understand that this blog is a small and scattered start. This is just a kick off and there's plenty of room for much more info and enthusiastic talking from everyone.

Authors & Publications of the Subject

Attila Kapitany - Covers Australian edible succulents within Aussie succulents writings

Usefull Links


Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (General)

CSIRO (General)

QLD Health Poisonous Plants&Fungi

Living Smart Qld - Bush Tucker

Witjutigrub Bush Foods Nursery

Australian Edible Succulents

Kumbartcho Nursery

Paten Park Native Nursery - The Gap

Indigiscapes - Redland Native nursery

Davidsons Plum (Rob's Blog)

Pigface (Dave's Blog)

The Australian Native Food Industry Stocktake 2012

Native Crop Handbook 2004

Below - Finger Limes (green/pink skin, pink flesh variety)


Previous_Blog_Comments (Keeping it central, the blog has changed to discussion)


Thanks Roger. I agree with the difficult with some factor, and further add, if we were to focus entirely on growing Australian bush foods, we would most likely be going backwards with food sovereignty, carbon footprints and similar themed issues which are, (from my point of view) of growing significance for our better future So why should I feel the need to have a group discussing Aussie native foods?

One benefit I can see is that such a group may spark a point of interest for individuals new to growing things and others who like 'new foods' - which may lead to better growing of all foods in general. I can probably explain this a little better by looking at my own 'growing foods path' ...

The first plants I put in the ground on this property 15 years ago were local Native plants. This fuelled my interest with growing plants in general. After a little while, I found myself choosing more edible native plants (now not necessary as local). Around this time (around 10 years ago) I began dabbling in small vege gardens (non-natives cultivated by humans from all over the world). I continued this cycle ... on a small scale, planting edible natives and re-visiting very small scale non-native fruit & vege growing.

I kept Australian Grunters in fish tanks as pets and knew not of Aquaponics. The whole 'native thing' was a hobby (and still is) for me.

Last year due to the combined interest in growing things (now not necessarily natives only), keeping non-native farm animals, and raising fish (now for food & interestingly natives), I found Brisbane Local Food to be an incredible source of information and inspiration for back yard food production.

Since then, I've been reading (and watching) many BLF contributions and can only admit having my whole focus in growing things change for the better as a result. My family now eat from the garden every day, with the majority of the food grown being non-native, Although I still buy more food than we eat from the garden.

The passion for native foods is still there and this year, I had my largest crop of Davidson's plums and Native raspberries, however the growing space and food harvests have for the first time the year being overtaken by non-native fruit and veg, which is in most cases a more efficient means of growing food ... you won't see me chopping my Davidson's down, nor pulling out the growing N. Raspberry hedge, however new gardens are being created and populated with world foods (including small native additions like warrigal greens in amongst the other veggies).

Another good function I see for this group, is to enable all to contribute with information to aid us with more efficient ways and choices of growing edible natives which may fit in with our conditions, desires and of course gardens. One may grow a native food, it may die or be difficult and the whole idea for the individual to do the same with other Natives (or worse, with world foods) ceases. I feel therefore, it is best to identify these potential issues and address them as best we can. Those reading the information may make an informed decision to just have a balanced 'world foods' garden, and this can only be a good thing if there are good outcomes in their gardens as a result.

Comment by Roger Clark 2 hours ago 

Sorry, is the website. Correct spelling helps!

Comment by Roger Clark 2 hours ago 

Hello Rob,

I am interested in growing bush foods. I do find that some are difficult to grow though. It certainly is not a case of them being easy to grow, just because they are native to Australia. Some are rain forest plants, which need good soils, others seem to be very slow growing e.g. finger limes. I don't have much experience and knowledge, but benefited from a visit to Wutjuti Bush Foods Nursery a few years ago. Here Graeme White gave the group I was with a tour of his property where he has a large number of bush foods growing. He is a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic advocate of bush foods and I have heard him speak at The Nambour Garden show and at the BOGI Festival. He is always interesting to listen to. A lady named Veronica Cougan, ran the nursery at the time and provided a morning tea of various native foods (at a cost). I don't know whether they still operate but for those of you close by on the northside of Brisbane, it might be worth investigating. A website still operates. I remember Davidson Plum jam on scones, Wattle seed cream on scones, Herbal teas, Lemon and aniseed Myrtle. It was a great visit. My own experience has been very mixed. I bought an Atherton Nut tree which died in its pot even before I tried to plant it out, My NSW Davidsons Plum tree is about 1/3 of its original size after it got burnt in a 40 degree day last year (definitely not as tough as the Qld Davidson Plums, but then we would expect that wouldn't we?) My finger limes are progressing, but very slowly, while the Lemon and Aniseed Myrtle trees are doing very well. Have others had similar experiences with native foods?

Comment by Elaine coolowl 5 hours ago 

I'm happy to err on the side of caution, Rob. The Dianella I have is probably the common one but since I cannot be sure, best to leave it aside for now. I only ate the one fruit anyway so who's to know if cumulatively it's not toxic.

Comment by Rob Collings 7 hours ago 

I believe that there is 1 of the Dianella species that is grown for human consumption. Many sites which side of safety, will rule out the Flax lily as an edible species.

The Gap Native Nursery does have one Dianella described as edible, and two Dianella described as 'not-edible' ... this information is located 'on site' (info cards) and not on their website. I'd guess that the ones you have tried are the former of the mentioned.

I will have to try to drill down on the specific Dianella which has been described by some as safe ... Note, the QLD Health site deems all Dianella (flax lily) as poisonous (I would guess that some Government departments will side on caution if the resources and time to isolate such information is not available). The QLD Health website is lacking references for primary data of such, this is not a complaint or a 'call to ignore', just a bit of understanding as to the conflicting information out there. ... I suppose, until more info comes up ... if in doubt, leave it out?

The local native ginger berry is refreshing, and I have used it successfully to aide a dry mouth when down the yard ... I've pealed the blue shell off, popped the seeds in the mouth, and gently chewed (without crunching the seeds) to get the thin layer of pulp from around the seeds, as you said Elaine, nice lemony-gingery taste as well as a good temporary relief to a dry mouth ... I must remember that bottle of water (I'd still go the N. Ginger seeds though).

I love your last paragraph and walk along side with you with the hope for more booming native foods!

Comment by Rob Collings 10 hours ago 

Thanks heaps Elaine! this is off to a great start, the listings have now begun.

Comment by Elaine coolowl 10 hours ago 

The purple/blue berries of the Dianella are edible. Semi-palatable, a bit bland. The berries of the native Ginger (Alpinia sp) are edible too, lemony-gingery.

Few of our native foods have been selectively bred for size, flavour (especially flavour) and fleshiness. More something for children to inherit: a booming native food scene with well-flavoured ingredients sustainably farmed.


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Replies to This Discussion

Finger Limes are fine if you remember how prickly they are. I allowed mine to grow as it wanted and found out just how darned prickly it is when I tried to harvest the fruit. It's gone now but my observation is that to prune out the centre of the plant and only allow fruit on the outside limbs to allow picking without stabbing. There's many selections now both in colour and flavour but I guess they'll be just as prickly.

Lilly Pillies are very variable in fruiting. There's more fruits on the neglected ones down at the shopping centre (complete with exhaust fumes and other pollution) than on my fancy disease-resistant ones.

The Bunya is a huge tree and not likely to fruit in a pot. The 'nut' is a pine cone (they are a pine relative) weighing many kilos. If one fell on you, you would not survive the experience. Imo an unsuitable tree for suburbia. Locally there was one growing on a footpath. Some kind soul attached a notice which couldn't be read driving past. Stopped, got out and walked under the canopy to read the sign. Sign said: Danger Falling Nuts. :-\

Lemon Myrtle is a lovely tree to grow but the strongly-scented leaves are all that's useful. Great to mow the leaves but really, hardly worth the space if you want to use it. Lemon Grass is far more useful.

Native Raspberries are OK but not very tasty. There's several species and one was the most aggressive grower I've tried to live with. It is compost now. Too spikey, too many canes.

Yes I get holes in my fingers that really hurt with my few bushes when picking.

I see the Lemon Myrtle/ Lemon Scented Ironwood (are these the same?) in many locations on government road-strip and some property hedge plantings.

When I put a container of perfectly ripe Rubus Probus down with gatherings of people, (Kindy art day was the most recent one), the raspberries disappear with people going back many times. I hear many comments amongst the tasters, urging other to try, and 'delicious', and of course 'what are these things?' ... the people who are enjoying these do not usually know that I have brought them nor know me at all. (so no politeness/bias contamination there).

btw, have any body noticed a lot of Chinese restaurants  have replaced silver perch with jade perch in their live seafood tank, but are still selling them as silver perch? 

Personally, I prefer the jade perch over silver perch for texture and taste....

There's also been a lot of adverts for little lobsters for cheap (compare to lobsters), which I suspect are yabbies, but I have yet to try...

In the correct conditions, the Jade Perch grows to market size much faster than the Silver Perch.

There would be much more to this below, but quick notes ...

Silver Perch - less issues with lower temperatures - around 1.5 x grow out to Jade - Good on Omega 3 DHA Fatty acids (4th on CSIRO world fish study ... not all fish in the world were included)

Jade Perch - Slows right down in growth over winter (in SEQ at least) - When kept warm during the cooler times, they can reach harvest size in under a year. - Brilliant on Omega 3 DHA fatty acids, 1st place in same CSIRO study mentioned above. (1st Jade, 2nd SawFish, 3rd Atlantic Salmon, 4th Silver Perch), and as you said Florence, they taste great with a nice delicate texture ... lots of fat/oil, but most of it's good fat/oil and the right prep/cooking makes the oily fat a non-issue.

The red claw (native to Northern QLD, can be caught in our SEQ dams. Watch out for varying QLD laws on crayfish traps and red claw limits ... I believe there is now a bag limit in the SEQ dams, previously there was no limit due to it's pest/invasive nature (SEQ) - your usually allowed to catch many.

I'll try to find some fisheries links soon ... anyone can get us straight there, go for it.

Paul Van der Werf from Brisbane does a lot of work for the Australian crayfish species - wild (for protection and reasearch) and farming for aquaculture research)

According to Tim Low's book- Australia has 15 species of flax lilies. The beach flax lily, Dianella congesta, grows on coastal dunes between Rockhampton and Wollongong, and carries it's large fruits in tight bunches on an arching stem which is barely taller than the leaves.  Most other flax lilies produce their fruits in open sprays atop an upright stem, which can be up to 1.5m tall and is held well above the foliage.

Apparently the big fruited D.tasmanica is not edible. The beach flax lily has tasty berries but most kinds are very insipid.

Edible species include D.caerulea,  D. longifolia (formerly D. laevis), D. revoluta, D.pavopennacea and D. bambusifolia.

That's if you are not bambuselled by now.  I did not have any luck with the ones I tried to grow.

Good info, thank you Christa. Mine is either caerulea or longifolia which are the common ones hereabouts (Brisbane).

You will have success with them in a shady spot. Mine are under 50 percent shadecloth next to a bath-cum-frog pond. Rarely watered. All I do is cut off the berries (before I knew they were edible); an easy-care plant if ever there was one!

Another native food plant is the yellow elderberry. It is called Sambucus australasica.  I have a young plant, in a small pot.  Yet to prove itself, and should get 5mm translucent yellow berries. 

The native white elderberry is one I do not have, called Sambucus gaudichaudiana with cream fruits.

One common plant we regard a weed, but I have always thought it to be quite pretty, is Oxalis corymbosa. This is the large leafed pink flowered shamrock.  It has a carrot like tuber, about 8cm in length and apparently quite  pleasant to eat raw - quite sweet with no obvious trace of acid.  Maybe I will try this one and see if I survive. It is listed as wild food in Cribb's book, though I wonder if maybe it was introduced many years ago.

We have some of those Oxalis you mention growing in our garden at work. I might try digging one up as the gardens are due to be done over by some vols shortly and they are sure to toss them out. Would have to be related to the Oca that I have so much trouble establishing.

I know that plant, too! And here I was trying in vain to grow Oca when we've already got something similar growing for free! Now I know about it, I won't be able to find it ;-) It has an almost translucent root with lots of tiny bulbils clinging to it so plenty of free planting material too.

Wow Christa, the elderberry(s) sound worth a try, I'd love to hear how your plant goes over time. 

And fascinating about the Oxalis corymbosa, many of us have probably pulled out, not knowing you can have a much on as well! ... It seems to be mentioned as naturalised on most continents, originating from South America ... I think it's very much worth discussing, as it's another exciting revelation about an edible plant that may have been here for a very, very long time.


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