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First Cuttings

Australian Bushfoods Magazine

Australian food plants that have obtained international acceptance are thin on the ground. The macadamia is the only one that comes readily to mind. Is this because Australian plants don't have the same potential as crops for human consumption as those from other parts of the world? Perhaps....but one reason is that there hasn't been the need to develop commercial strains of Australian food plants. By the time that Australian food plants were discovered internationally, most staple food crops had already been developed.

There is, however, a growing interest in developing Australian plants for more widespread human consumption. The "Bush Tucker" industry has expanded to the extent that it can now justify its own successful industry magazine. "Australian Bushfoods" was started a year or so ago by Sammy Ringer (see her article in this issue). I asked Sammy to tell us something about the magazine - here's her reply....

"I started Australian Bushfoods magazine for a simple reason - I was having trouble finding information on bushfoods and many people I spoke to had the same problem. About three years ago I attended a bushfoods workshop here in Maleny, Queensland, which attracted nearly 60 people. I thought - 'if bushfoods are generating this much interest, the sector needs a magazine!'

For 12 months I gathered information, contacts, plants, advice, mailing lists, photos and anything else I could get my hands on. The magazine still relies on experienced contributors for its content - although I'm learning every day, I'm far from an expert in the field.

Being a small, new and geographically scattered industry, bushfoods has a great need for the formation of networks, information exchanges and regional associations. One of the magazine's aims is to bring bushfood people together. Another is to get new people excited about our native foods.

The magazine is national and attempts to source information from every climatic and geographic region. Each issue contains a mix of news, species descriptions, recipes, research findings, on the ground stories, profiles, listings (groups, firms, government departments etc) and resources (books, the net, etc) as well as articles sent in by contributors.

With issue 8 due out shortly, the magazine has waded through most (but not all!) of its teething problems. Readers are beginning to give me feedback on what they want to read and, without doubt, the next 8 issues will see changes and improvements to the publication."

Sammy can be contacted at: sammy@ausbushfoods.com

Bush Food Garden

State Forests (NSW) has developed a bush food garden at its Calgaroo Picnic Area at Cumberland State Forest in north-western Sydney. Visitors can view plants such as Davidson's plum, sandpaper figs, native ginger, native tamarind and many others. All the plants are labelled and include details of the food specialities.

Cumberland State Forest is off Castle Hill Road, West Pennant Hills.

Edible Wattle Seeds

A new book published by the Department of Conservation and Land Management (Western Australia) and CSIRO Forestry and Forestry Products describes research into 18 of the most promising Acacia species for human consumption. The book, "Edible Wattle Seeds of Southern Australia" gives botanical profiles, natural distributions, ecology, growth habits and details of seed production. Wattle seed can be used as a flavouring in confectionery and ice cream, as a coffee substitute, as a food for diabetics and in biscuits and bread.

From an article by Peter Spinks....source unknown.

A Seminar and a Couple of Conferences....


Living in Harmony with Wildlife

Friday 26 to Sunday 28 March, 1999

Rodger Elliot advises that the Friends of Karwarra Australian Plant Garden will hold the 4th Biennial Australian Plant Seminar from March 26-28, 1999. The Seminar's theme will be "Living in Harmony with Wildlife - Plants and Animals in City and Country Gardens" and it will be held at the Karwarra Garden, Mt Dandenong Tourist Road, Kalorama, Victoria, 3766.

These Seminars have achieved a high reputation for the excellence of the speakers and the range of interesting topics covered. The proposed programme for 1999 is:

  • Friday 26 and Sunday 28: lectures and Workshops at the Karwarra Gardens.
  • Saturday 27: Excursion to city and rural sites concluding with an evening of spotlighting wildlife.

Topics will include:

Designing HabitatHabitat for FrogsWhat do Butterflies and Moths Need?
Can Feral Weeds be Good Habitat?Grasslands as HabitatUnderstorey, Upper Storey and Between
Constructing HabitatAssessing Habitat for WildlifeValue of Remnant Vegetation

The Keynote Speaker will be renowned naturalist and educator, Alan Reid.

The anticipated cost is approximately $75 per day; bookings for separate days are available. The cost includes all excursion costs, catered lunch, morning and afternoon teas, free gift vouchers for Kuranga Nursery and other free products.

For further information about the Seminar Programme, contact:

  • Robert Anderson 03 5962 5541
  • Rodger Elliot: 03 9879 1427
  • Marilyn Gray: 03 9728 5891 (ah)
  • Elspeth Jacobs; 03 9728 3492

Information about local accommodation facilities can be provided for those from outside Melbourne.

I've mentioned these before but, for those who may have missed the earlier notification.....

5th Australian Wildflower Conference

Thursday 15 to Saturday 17 April, 1999

This Conference will draw together growers, exporters, wholesalers, florists, researchers, extension officers, educators and students working on Australian and South African cut flowers. The Conference will be held during the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, which is from 14 - 18 April, 1999.

The theme of the Conference is "New Flowers, Products and Technologies" and it will feature keynote addresses and formal presentations from speakers who are leaders in their areas of expertise. There will also be discussion sessions, poster sessions, trade display and field trips.

For further information contact PR Conference Consultants Pty Ltd, PO Box 2954, Fitzroy Delivery Centre, 3065, Victoria. Phone 03 9419 6199; Fax 03 9419 6400; Email prcc@mail.austasia.net

20th Biennial ASGAP Conference and Seminar

Saturday 10 to Friday 16 July, 1999

Conference Logo

Every 2 years the Society for Growing Australian Plants holds holds a Conference which allows the various Regional Groups to consider and determine policy matters. Combined with the conference is a Seminar which lasts for 5 days and which combines formal lectures on a range of topics with field trips.

In 1999 the Conference and Seminar will be held in Brisbane and will be hosted by the Queensland Region of SGAP from 10 July to 16 July. The venue will be the University of Queensland.

A Catalogue of the Eucalypts

Dr Mike Wilcox, an international forestry consultant based in New Zealand, has advised of the publication of this catalogue. Mike, who is the book's author, advises that the catalogue "is a new, authoritative, up-to-date guide to all 789 currently recognised eucalypt (Angophora, Corymbia, Eucalyptus) species, many of them newly described or re-named over the last five years. It is an indispensable reference for foresters, farmers, arborists, botanists, nurserymen, and students to the correct names and classification of the species, and also includes notes on distributions, and a bibliography. There is also a 1998 supplement with a further 20 species.

The book comprises 114 pages with 8 photographs and is available from Groome Pöyry Ltd, Forest and Forest Industry Consultants, PO Box 73-141, Auckland International Airport, Auckland, New Zealand. Fax (09) 256 0000. Price $27.95 including GST and postage. Overseas orders: Fax +64 9 256 0000, US$20.00 or $A25.00 incl. postage. Payment by money order or cheque, with order. The e-mail address for orders is mdw@groomepoyry.co.nz.

Gold Medal Award

I mentioned this in the November issue of the subscribers newsletter but thought it worth repeating....

"The Flower Export Council of Australia Inc (FECA) is proud to announce it has been awarded a Gold Medal for its exhibition of Australian flora at the 1998 Aalsmeer International Flower Show currently taking place in the Netherlands.

The awarding of a Gold Medal to the 'Flowerful Australia' exhibit was especially pleasing for FECA as there were more than 400 exhibitors from 30 different countries competing for exhibition prizes at Aalsmeer this year.

Thumbs Up!

The Aalsmeer International Flower Show is the premier world event for showcasing cut flowers, new varieties, plant material, and services such as financing, research and marketing.

The 36th Aalsmeer International Flower Show is the second year that two major Dutch Trade Shows have been combined. The two events, the International Horti Fair (NTV) and the International Flower Trade Show were held together under one roof at the Aalsmeer Flower Auction site from Tuesday 3 to Saturday 7 November, 1998.

The 1998 'Flowerful Australia' exhibition was the second year that such promotion has been co-ordinated by FECA. This years award winning 'Gold Medal' exhibit follows last years 'Silver Medal' awarded to the FECA display.

Credit and thanks must go to the members of the FECA Executive as organisers, to the agencies and companies who assisted with funding, to FECA members who attended this event (Denis Tricks, Jenni Bras and Tony Dick), to FECA's Melbourne floral designer for this event Mr Keith Wood for his floral design talent and flair and to all exporters and growers who donated fresh and dried Australian flowers and foliage for this event.

FECA believes the international interest created by the Australian exhibit and products displayed will lead to increased sales of Australian flora in the international marketplace in 1998/99."

Native Animals and Pesticides

Skull & Crossbones

Australasian Science (February 1998) reported on the resistance of Western Australian native animals to the poison 1080. They have developed a resistance to the poison of up to 100 times that of other animals due to the fact that many Western Australian native plants (on which they feed) produce fluoroacetate, the active ingredient in 1080. This has meant that Western Australian native animals have not been impacted by baiting programmes aimed at controlling feral animals such as foxes, cats and wild dogs.

If you're interested in poisonous plants, the article, Australian Native Poisonous Plants, by Dr Ross McKenzie in the September 1997 issue of Australian plants online makes interesting reading.

Good growing

Brian Walters

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Australian Plants online - December 1998
The Society for Growing Australian Plants