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.


Views: 1337

Replies to This Discussion

On behalf of C White (apologies, I've moved stuff around, but things should stay stable now). Thanks for the awesome input!

  Reply by C White 1 hour ago

I did not know we had native banana plants.  The livingsmartqld site has a good list of edible native plants, based around the Sunshine Coast region.  My Atractocarpus chartaceus (narrow leaf gardenia) is growing well, no edible fruits yet.   Davidsonia jerseyana is about a foot high, but looking good, it prefers some shade.  The finger lime in my yard is growing but not too fast.  Lenwebbia prominens (velvet myrtle) is about a foot high.  Pipturus argenteus has small fruit, about pea size.  To be truthful I thought that these native plants would take off at a fast pace,  (good things come to those who wait).

Thanks Christa and apologies about my moving things around.

The native banana took me by surprise as well, and hopefully in time we may find out more ... that document I linked seems to be a little old.

Your yard sounds very exciting (would love to see some pics, in good time). It seems we are beginning to see a theme of slow-grow with many of the edible natives from the good feedback from all. It's great information, allowing all who read to have a realistic expectation with these plants, keep it up!

Here's another site to add to your list Rob:

INDIGISCAPES native plant nursery

Two books to add to your list of resources Rob:


WILD HERBS OF AUSTRALIA AND NZ by Tim Low - I can't find anyone stocking this book though.

Here's a list of native edibles I've tried to grow, only a short one:-
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.
Blue lillipilli
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.
Native Guava
Planted it somewhere at my parents', and don't know where it's gone...
Native Mulberry
It outgrew it's small pot very quickly, and I think I have given it away after reading it's not actually edible?
Native raspberry
I think I bought two species, one was more ground hugging, and another grows tall canes, both very prickly.  I only have the cane ones left, the kids seems to like the fruits, but the plants' way too prickly for my liking...
Bunya Nut
They survived well in pots for a few years, but I gave them away since I have no where to plant them, again, too prickly...
Lemon Mrytle
I've got a couple in pots for years... haven't actually done anything with them except crushing their leaves and have a waft once in a while ~
Finger Lime
Have a couple in small pots bought as seedlings few years back.  Very slow growing, but seem to be growing more noticebly after I've moved them to a more shaded spot and watered regularly.
Warrigal Greens
Grown them for a season, found them very good spinach substitue for cooking.  Don't know where the parent plant have gone....

That's all I remember... although I've been looking for midyim berries, which supposedly is on Brisbane Council's free plants list.  I haven't seen them though, and have logged an online query on council's website, and a nice lady rang me up a couple of days later letting me know their supplier said they should be available when the weather gets warm.  Maybe I should check again soon..

I got a feeling that there's a perception that natives are hard to grow because we were misled to believe that native do not need TLC and are drought tolerant, but on the contrary, many native edibles comes from the rainforest and are in fact not really drought tolerant, and may not appreciate full sun when young.  Also, slow to production and quality varies because a lot of what's available are seedling trees...

Florence - Midyim may be available at Indigiscapes. Elaine and I bought some at the same time some years back and I am still waiting for them to do anything. Very unprepossessing plant as well (not visually appealing).

Would you like some Warrigal Greens seeds? I can post you some. Not tested this lot of seed myself as my plant magically reappeared again in the spot where I thought it had died out. Self seeded? I doubt it as I didn't see flowers and the seeds are actually quite large - I would have noticed. There must be a dormant part of the plant underground.

Using the native edibles requires a bit of knowledge in "how to". Things like the greens and the finger limes are obvious substitutes for foods we already know. We need some lessons in finding, growing and using the less obvious plants.

If you want a Midgem berry plant, I have one I don't deserve due to my current neglect of it. If your nicer to plants than I am, you should be able to get many a year or 2 down the track (I'll grab one back then) ... it seems to spread (mine has not due to neglect), but the person's place I got it from at Moorooka had a 4m long x 1M heigh hedge of it. It seemed to spread and he just used an electric hedger to keep it looking nice (just looked like a hybrid small leaf lillyplilly - 1 Meter high hedge), it had many berries when I was at their place. Mine is living up to many others' reports, but the poor thing is in a very small pot, in very little mix.

I'm however not fussed on the berries texture (strangely mushy) and has only an average semi-sweet taste.

My plants have just sat there like little puddles. No plants worth cutting into a hedge here.

Thanks for the offer Rob, my plants do get their fair share of neglect ^^, I'm surprised how many of them survived the past three years! They were in pots too!  Some in much the same situation as your little midyim ... although my plants are getting better care now, there's little chance they can spread since I can only grow in containers ....

Could the berries you tried be over riped hence mushy?

Fair chance they were. When I tried them off that hedge, I was impressed and asked for a cutting, so when I tried mine (which was grown from a base type cutting off Tash's work colleague's hedge), I thought I remembered something better.

Mine has rooted into the ground (in the pot), so I think there is a split/base/cutting coming up, I might get a few with luck.

Natasha still keeps in contact with her friend, Bernard her hubby is very sharing, keen and good with plants (grew and made awesome coffee as well, loves growing his veggies), so we may be able to get some more (if their hedge is still there).

Hi Florence

I have a Midgem Berry(s) plant from cuttings (thanks to Paten Park Native Nursery and Christa for pointing out their availability there), I'll bring these along to Andy's. They are very small, but should fruit early due to the mature wood. I've still got to work on cuttings form the one recovering plant at home.

Certainly need knowledge, and there's little in the general population on native food...

Thanks for the offer for the seed, probably better to offer someone who actually can test them out, I have a lot of 'wants', but not much 'capacity' ... we just moved to a place with a bit more space for my pots, and I'm running out of space again already  .....


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