Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bunya Nut, Araucaria bidwilli

Bunya Nuts from the tree Araucaria bidwilli

Local tree growing in a park
A friend has just given me some Bunya nuts which I have not eaten for years as they are not the sort of thing you find at the local supermarket. The process of cooking them involves boiling them in their shell for 30 minutes and then leaving them to cool for 4 hours after which time the shell can be removed with ease. They have a flavour not unlike chestnuts and can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. They are apparently gluten free and high in complex carbohydrates according to Vic Cherikoff writing in his book Uniquely Australian: A Wildfood Cookbook. He gives a selection of interesting recipes using bunya nuts including one with crocodile steak....mmm
It is unfortunate that the tree is so tall and with such prickly leaves, it is unsuitable for city gardens or parks.The cones containing the nuts are so large (30 cm) round they could be deadly if one were to be hit on the head as they drop to the ground

Drawings by Betty Maloney of leaves and cone of Auracaria bidwilli (right) and A. cunninghamii (left)

Glenlyon Drive in Ashgrove, Brisbane lined with Bunya Pines
The most famous avenue of Bunya Pines is in the Brisbane suburb of Ashgrove . These trees marked the driveway to Glen Lyon estate, the farm of Scottish businessman Alexander Stewart who built a house there in 1876. The trees remained after the property was subdivided in 1918 and the house became the home of the Marist Fathers' Monastery from 1930.
I am not sure how popular the trees are with local residents who have to deal with the falling leaves and cones.