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Quandong (Santalum acuminatum)

Prized by Aborigines and early settlers alike, the Quandong is a parasitic plants that attach themselves to the roots of other plants, eventually growing into a small tree that grows up to 5 m high. It has a rough dark bark and sometimes yellowish green leathery leaves, lanceolate, often curved measuring between 30-90 mm long and 3-12 mm wide.

Rich in vitamin C, the Aborigines ate both the sharp-tasting flesh and the kernel of the large stone, although there is a toxin in the seed that is removed by roasting, and appears to decays over time. There is also some evidence that the seed is used for medicinal purpose. The wrinkled looking seed case was also used in the game Chinese checkers. The early settlers made the fruit into jams, jellies and pies.

The flower is small and greenish, with a greenish fruit that turns bright red, fleshing and enclosing a round pitted stone. There is also a rarer yellow-fruited form. The fruit ripens in September to October, depending on rainfall.

It is found growing in sandy spinifex areas, often near water courses, salt lakes or hills. Like others of the genus, the plant is parasitic on the roots of other trees. The plant is becoming rare in the wild because of heavy browsing pressure from feral camels. The fruit is also enjoyed by the Bowerbirds, who may also use the un-ripen green fruit to line their bower during courtship.

Extreme care must be taken when identifying edible food plants and those used in bush medicine. Some bush foods are only edible at different stages of the plant cycle, or when treated appropriately. Bush medicine should only be used under the guidance of a qualified physician. Information here is only provided for research. You should always seek experts in the field to confirm the identification of the plant and whether they are edible or appropriate.

Quandong

Olive Pink Botanic Garden, Alice Springs, Northern Territory

Quandong (Santalum acuminatum) © Colin Leel, September 2007

Quandong (Santalum acuminatum) © Colin Leel, September 2007

Quandong (Santalum acuminatum) © Colin Leel, September 2007

Quandong (Santalum acuminatum) © Colin Leel, September 2007

© Colin Leel
 
More information and images can be seen in the Flora section on the Quandong.
 
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