Bunya Pine – Promising new tree

A_Bunya_Araucaria_bidwillii_cone with nuts

Bunya Pine – Araucaria bidwillii

A Dr-Seuss-like tree with a straight, rough-barked trunk, bare horizontal branches with a tuft of glossy green lance-shaped leaves on the end and a very symmetrical, dome shaped crown. Tolerates light frosts.

Available in New Zealand from Southern Woods Nursery and more.

Impressive facts: Mature height of 45 metres, life span 500 years, pine cones up to 10Kg each, with up to 150 seeds – each 60mm x 30mm.

Detailed Wikipedia article.

Uses

Indigenous Australians eat the nut of the bunya tree both raw and cooked (roasted, and in more recent times boiled), and also in its immature form. Traditionally, the nuts were additionally ground and made into a paste, which was eaten directly or cooked in hot coals to make bread. The nuts were also stored in the mud of running creeks, and eaten in a fermented state. This was considered a delicacy.

Apart from consuming the nuts, Indigenous Australians ate bunya shoots, and utilised the tree’s bark as kindling.

Bunya nuts are still sold as a regular food item in grocery stalls and street-side stalls around rural southern Queensland. Some farmers in the Wide Bay/ Sunshine Coast regions have experimented with growing bunya trees commercially for their nuts and timber.

Since the mid-1990s, the Australian company Maton has used bunya for the soundboards of its BG808CL Performer acoustic guitars. The Cole Clark company (also Australian) uses bunya for the majority of its acoustic guitar soundboards. The timber is valued by cabinet makers and woodworkers, and has been used for that purpose for over a century.

However its most popular use is as a ‘bushfood’ by indigenous foods enthusiasts. A huge variety of home-invented recipes now exists for the bunya nut; from pancakes, biscuits and breads, to casseroles, to ‘bunya nut pesto’ or hoummus. The nut is considered nutritious, with a unique flavour similar to starchy potato and chestnut. The nutritional content of the bunya nut is: 40% water, 40% complex carbohydrates, 9% protein, 2% fat, 0.2% potassium, 0.06% magnesium.[10] It is also gluten free, making bunya nut flour a substitute for people with gluten intolerance.

Comments

  1. says

    Hey James, I’m on Waiheke but have land in the far north which I’m going to turn from pasture into a food forest, I’ve been looking at getting some bunya pines after seeing a Geoff Lawton video last week (I’m on his online PDC course). IIRC at Zaytuna farm they’re planting 50+ a year.

    I like its multiple uses, though I’ll have to be patient as it’s a slow grower.

    If you haven’t seen it yet, have a look at this thread on permies.com that has some very useful suggestions for native n-fixing support trees: http://www.permies.com/t/8520/woodland/Food-Forest-Support-Species

    • admin says

      We should connect over a cuppa Andrew – you can get me on 021 2520 653. PLease call and we’ll make a plan. Thanks for the Nitrogen fixing trees forum – I’ll spend some time with this and share it with Steve and Christy, who are our plant specialists for the Waiheke project.

  2. says

    Great tree, I ate a lot of these when staying at Cows Nest in Bega, Australia (well south of Sydney, so hopefully will grow in many parts of NZ, but probably not in the Dunedin area unfortunately). They are a substantial and delicious food.

    We get much smaller fruit (fiddly to eat) from the related Monkey Puzzle in Dunedin.

  3. Lynda Goulden says

    I have two very small Bunya bunya pines growing in my yard. [Whangarei] I got them from a friend who had once run a nursery business. Totally prickly little suckers. You don’t want to brush up against them. I doubt I’ll ever get to see them fruit as they are so slow growing but I live in hope.
    I’m planning on moving into town in the next few years and I’d like to plant another tree, so it’s nice to know there is a nursery selling the trees in NZ.

  4. Carla says

    Hola!
    From Buenos Aires, Argentina. We moved to a house with a wonderful Bunya, first I thought she was an Araucaria Araucana, our Mapuche local version. In this first round of the year & stations here, she gave us magnificient piñas/cones & discovered nuts… My respects to your originals… I´m receiving the blessings & trying to honor by asking and exploring while harvest, her several properties & possible receips.
    Thanks for your advice.

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