Bush Tucker Plants
How to Identify, Harvest and Use Australian Native Bush Tucker Plants
Learn about identifying, growing and using Australian indigenous plants for food.

There are many Australian plants that are edible, and even some that are in very high demand as foods throughout the world. The Aborigines lived off the land before white civilization came to Australia. Plants contributed significantly to their diet.

There are many different types of bush tucker foods:

  • Nuts and seeds (eg. Acacia, Macadamia, bunya nuts)
  • Drinks (eg. hot teas, infusions of nectar laden flowers, fruit juices)
  • Flavourings (eg. lemon scented myrtle)
  • Berries (eg. Astroloma, some Solanum species)
  • Fruits (eg. quandong, Ficus macrophylla, Syzygium)
  • Vegetables
  • Wattle seeds ground to produce ‘flour’
  • Plant roots ground to produce a paste or flour.

Explore both familiar and unfamiliar Edible Plants that come from Australia.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Scope
    • Is it Edible
    • Native Plants to be Cautious with
    • Understanding Plant Toxins
    • Nutritional Value of Bush tucker
    • Plant Identification
    • Naming Plants
    • Hybrids, Varieties and Cultivars
    • Plant Families
    • Pronouncing Plant Names
    • Resources
  2. Growing
    • Understanding Soil
    • Improving Soil
    • Feeding Plants
    • Growing Australian Plants on Low Fertility Soils
    • Planting Procedure
    • Mulching
    • Pruning Australian Plants
    • Propagation
    • Seed
    • Collecting, Storing, Germinating Seed
    • Difficult Seeds
    • Seed Germination Techniques
    • Handling and raising seedlings
    • Asexual Propagation (Cuttings, Division, etc)
  3. Gathering
    • Introduction
    • Ethics
    • Bush Foods as A Commercial Venture
    • Gathering Acacia Seed
    • Developing a Bush Food Garden
    • Designing a Bush Garden
    • Selected Native Trees for a Bush Tucker Garden
    • Selected Shrubs for a Bush Tucker Garden
    • Selected Small Indigenous Australian Plants for a Bush Tucker Garden
    • Rainforest Gardens
    • Desert Gardens
    • Edible Arid Zone Bush Tucker plants
    • Water Management
  4. Nuts and Seeds
    • Macadamia
    • Araucaria
    • Aleurites moluccana
    • Athertonia diversifolia (Atherton Oak)
    • Castanospermum australe
    • Hicksbeachia pinnatifolia
    • Acacias
    • Using Acacias (eg. Wattleseed Essense)
  5. Vegetables
    • Native Spinach (Tetragonia tetragonioides)
    • Pigface (Carpobrotus sp.)
    • Longleaf Mat Rush (Lomandra longifolia)
    • Solanums (Bush Tomatoes or Kangaroo Apple)
    • Blechnum indicum
    • Apium prostratum (Sea Celery)
    • Native Lilies
    • Microseris lanceolata (Yam Daisy)
    • Dioscorea transversa (Wild Yams)
    • Native ginger Alpinia caerulear
    • Seaweeds
  6. Fruits
    • Astroloma
    • Austromyrtus dulcis (Midgen Berry)
    • Billardiera sp (eg. Appleberry)
    • Davidsonia purescens (Davidson’s Plum)
    • Eugenia spp. and Syzygium spp. (eg. Bush Cherries)
    • Ficus (Native Figs)
    • Planchonella australis (Black Apple)
    • Quandong (Santalum)
    • Rubus sp (Native Raspberry)
    • Other Fruits ...lots more outlined
  7. Flavourings, Teas, Essences
    • Backhousia
    • Curcuma (related to ginger)
    • Eucalyptus
    • Leptospermum
    • Soaked Flowers (eg. Grevillea)
    • Acacia
    • Alpinia caerulea
    • Tasmannia sp
  8. Using Bush Tucker Plants
    • Develop your ability to identify, select, and develop processing procedures, for a range of varieties of bush food plants selected.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Discuss the nature and scope of bush tucker plants.
  • Review the way bush tucker plants are accurately identified.
  • Describe how to cultivate a range of bush tucker plants.
  • Describe how bush foods are harvested from the wild and how to set up a cultivated bush food garden.
  • Outline the cultivation, harvest and use of various bush tucker nuts and seeds.
  • Explain the cultivation, harvest and use of various bush tucker vegetables
  • Explain the cultivation, harvest and use of various bush tucker fruits
  • Explain the cultivation, harvest and use of various bush tucker plants that are used to flavour foods or beverages
  • Describe the preparation of bush tucker.

Examples of Bush Tucker Trees

Acacia longifolia (Golden Wattle)

This is a fast-growing tree to 7-10m tall native to south eastern Australia, lower southeast of Qld, eastern NSW, eastern and southern Victoria, and south-eastern SA. The green wattle seeds are quite similar in composition to cultivated garden peas but are best cooked by lightly baking. Flowers appear in July through to September with seed pods ripening in summer.

Acacia mearnsii

This plant is found in southern Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania as well as the coast and tablelands of New South Wales. Flowering occurs from September to December. It produces edible gum and seed. Bark tea is used to treat indigestion.  This tree grows to 15m and needs an open, dry, well-drained position in full sun.

Backhousia citriodora (Lemon Myrtle)

This is a small, low-branching tree, to 3m - 8m tall. It is native to Qld and NSW. It needs warm, well-drained soil and grows in full sun to part shade but should be protected from frost. The leaves are intensely lemon flavoured and are used in teas, or as a lemongrass substitute. They are wonderful in cheesecakes - dry and grind the leaves for cakes and biscuits.

Brachychiton populneus (Kurrajong)

Thus is a large tree to 10m. It requires a moist, well-drained position. They are frost-tender when young. Plant them in sun to part shade. They bear nutty flavoured edible seeds.

Citrus australasica (Native Finger Lime)

This is a small tree, 4-6m tall, which is native to Qld and NSW. They grow in full sun to part shade on moist, fertile, well-drained soils - but can also be grown in pots. The finger shaped fruit is filled with edible tiny balls, and they have a lovely lime taste which makes them great in Asian dishes, but they are also suited to cocktails.

Eucalyptus olida (Strawberry Gum)

A medium-sized tree to 20m, restricted to sclerophyll woodlands on the Northern Tableland of NSW. Cream-coloured flowers are followed by small woody capsules. The juvenile leaves are ovate, dull green and 7cm long. The intensely aromatic adult leaves are to 17cm lanceolate, glossy green and are used as a spice. E.olida is classified as a threatened species in the wild, but is becoming more common in cultivation due to its essential oil and spice qualities. It is suited to larger gardens.

Macadamia integrifolia (Macadamia Nut)

This is a rounded, slow-growing tree to 12-15m tall. For best results buy a grafted variety (these are readily available in Australia). Best suited to the warmer climates of coastal south Qld and northern NSW. The delicious nuts should be allowed to ripen on the tree. Nuts ripen approximately 7 months after the flowers appear in June, through to March. Bronze leaves appear opposite in seedlings and in whorls of three. They are pale green on mature plants, and 10–30 cm long. The leaf margins have few or no spines, and the petioles (leaf stalks) are about 1.3cm long.  The flowers are creamy-white, without petals, and are borne in groups of 3 or 4 along a long axis in racemes, similar to those of grape vines. The fruit consist of a fleshy green husk enclosing a spherical shaped seed. The nuts are roundish and 1.3–2.5cm in diameter. The shell is tough, fibrous and quite difficult to crack.

How Can This Course Help My Career?

This course was designed for both people who might grow and who might use Australian Bush Tucker Plants.
Anyone who works with food -from production and manufacture to selling and cooking, can find value in this course.

You may use this course to explore new and innovative possibilities as a grower or as a cook.

Whatever your purpose in studying Bush Tucker, you will expand your knowledge and awareness of foods that might be exploited as crops, to produce new food products and to create new menu items.