Alice Springs Desert Park
When walking around the Alice Springs Desert Park, keep you eyes open for signs of the Bush Banana (Marsdenia australis) vine, that can be seen twining around other shrubs and trees for support.
Known as langkwe in the Eastern Arrernte language, the bush banana has been seen growing over acacia, bloodwood and various mulgas.
With thick narrow leaves growing from short leaf stalk, the flowers of the bush banana are pink in colour. Although commonly known as the bush banana, the fruit pod is pear-shaped, hence its other common names of Native pear and Silky pear.
An important bush food plant for the Aboriginal people with most parts including the flowers, leaves, fruit and roots being eaten. While the flowers have a sweet flavour and are eaten raw, it is the young fruit that is highly sought, being eaten straight from the vine. Although the older fruit can be still be eaten, they are cooked first. The young leaves can also be eaten raw, and like the older fruit, the older leaves are also cooked before eating.
The fruit split open when mature, releasing white fluffy seeds that are dispersed by the wind.
Images © Greg Sully
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- Scientific classification
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Charophyta
- Class: Equisetopsida
- Subclass: Magnoliidae
- Superorder: Asteranae
- Order: Gentianales
- Family: Apocynaceae
- Genus: Marsdenia
- Species: M. australis
- Binomial name: Marsdenia australis