Raising awareness about Aboriginal culture is an important aspect of children’s learning and growing a bush tucker garden, children will show a growing appreciation for native edible Australian plants.
What is Bush Tucker?
Bush tucker is any food that’s native to Australia. They are naturally adapted to the climate and soil of this land, meaning they need less water and less effort to maintain when grown in similar conditions.
Indigenous Australians have been grazing on bush tucker for thousands of years had a symbiotic relationship with the land and lived off the native flora and fauna for many generations.
The Bush Tucker garden should features plants native to the community and the area your service is located and some should incorporate traditional food and medicine by the local Indigineous people of the area.
Benefits From Bush Tucker Gardens
- Strengthening their understanding and awareness of food and biodiversity.
- Practising teamwork, communication and critical thinking skills in an interesting setting.
- Getting hands-on learning opportunities outside the sedentary classroom environment.
- Learning about plants, soil, water, pests and beneficial insects.
- Eating herbs and veggies they’ve grown themselves.
- Teaching children how to care for plants,
- How to divert waste to recycling and composting
- How plants are important habitats for birds and insects.
- Provides a unique opportunity for the children to learn about diversity, and how to respect and acknowledge the difference between cultures.
- Children to become socially responsible by teaching that, as an active member of the community, they have rights but also responsibilities.
- Caring for the environment around them is one of those responsibilities – now and in the future.
Bush Tucker Plants
Here is a list of bush tucker plants to get your bush tucker garden started.
- Raspberry Jam Wattle – Acacia Acuminata
Edible seeds can be grounded into flour and baked into cakes Raspberry Jam Wattle flowers heavily in Spring
- Sea Parsley – Apium prostratum var. prostratum
Use it as a garnish or to flavor soups
- Midyim Berries – Austromyrtus dulcis
May be eaten fresh or used in pies and preserves. This dense, bushy plant does best in full sun or part shade.
- Arkalla – Carpobrotus virescens (Bain)
The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked like a vegetables Can tolerates both drought and salt, and is somewhat frost-resistant.
- Finger Lime – Citrus australasica
Great for summer drinks and desserts. Finger Limes thrive in dappled light as well as full sun. In cooler climates, a partly shaded north-facing site is preferred.
- Ooray – Davidsonia pruriens
Beautifully tart plum-like berries rich in antioxidants and vitamins. This is a medium-sized tropical ornamental tree, growing to between 4 and 8 metres.
- Chocolate Lily – Arthropodium strictum
Fragrant flowers are also edible, and may be added to salads. Grow in full sun or part shade in a garden bed or pot at least 20cm deep allowing room for the tubers to develop
- Warrine – Dioscorea hastifolia
Great ingredient in a variety of savoury and sweet dishes, like stews, pies, curries, and tarts. For best results, grow it in a loamy medium and keep mulched.
- Ruby Saltbush – Enchylaena tomentosa
Berries may be eaten raw or soaked in water to make a sweet tea It prefers full sun but will also grow in dappled shade. Can survive saline soil, sandy soil, long droughts and even some frost.
- Bloodroot – Haemodorum spicatum
Best baked or roasted, and may be pounded and dried and used as a spice. Bloodroot is summer dormant and slow growing.
- Muntries – Kunzea pomifera
Perfect for eating raw in salads and cheese platters, or cooked in jams. Avoid disturbing the roots and grow your muntrie upright on a low trellis.
- Blue Tongue – Melastoma affine
Berries can be picked and eaten directly off the shrub. Grows fast, reaching up to 3m in height. It produces no nectar, but plenty of pollen, and will attract bee
- Native River Mint – Mentha australis
Used for sauces, salads, dressing, dips, roasts, desserts, teas and cocktails. It grows relatively fast and will need regular pruning to keep tidy.
- Gumbi Gumbi – Pittosporum angustifolium
Great as tea, often touted for its health benefits. For best results in a home garden, choose a well-drained loamy soil or potting mix, located in full sun.
- Youlk – Platysace deflexa
Makes a tasty ingredient for salads, stews, pies, gratin and cakes. Grow your Youlk in full sun or part shade, in loamy soil, and water generously during summer.
- Bush Basil – Plectranthus graveolens
Scatter fresh leaves on pizza or caprese and salad. Though it will tolerate sandy soil and low nutrient levels, a loamy potting mix with plenty of organic matter will yield a better harvest.
- Sea Purslane – Sesuvium portulacastrum
Great for pickling as this is one salty succulent. It’s a low-maintenance plant. A fast grower, we don’t recommend growing it alongside other herbs and veggies
- Seablite – Suaeda australis
As a cooked vegetable, they bear resemblance to young bean shoots in texture. Seablite is a fast grower that prefers moist soil. Tolerates a wide range of pH and thrives in saline conditions.
- Tucker Bush Cherry – Syzygium austral
They may be eaten freshly picked from the tree, or made into jams, jellies, muffins, biscuits, and cakes. Flowering begins in late-Spring/early-Summer with clusters of white fluffy flowers appearing across the branches.
- WA Samphire – Tecticornia lepidosperma
Enjoy these raw, sautéed or quickly blanched and tossed with olive oil and lemon. Harvesting the tender new shoots will offer the best flavour without compromising plant growth.
- Warrigal Greens – Tetragonia tetragonioides
You can use Warrigal Greens the way you’d use spinach, chard, silverbeet and bok choy. This plant may die back during winter, but may revive itself in the spring.
- Fraser Island Apple – Acronychia imperforate
Try turning them into syrups, jams or sauces, or drying them like raisins. Fraser Island Apple is much loved by birds, so be sure to harvest early.
- Maroon Bush – Scaevola spinescens
Consume as tea, the leaves, flowers and berries of this plant can be simmered. Maroon Bush is a hardy evergreen similar in appearance to rosemary and preferring similar conditions.
- White Aspen – Acronychia oblongifolia
Enjoy them fresh on their own, or add them to salads and side dishes. With adequate care and pruning, you can easily grow it as a screen, a hedge or as an edible balcony plant in a large pot.
- Red Back Australian Ginger – Alpinia caerulea ‘Atherton’
Both the spicy root and bright blue fruit may be eaten. The ginger-scented rhizome may be used, like other ginger roots. Prefers a constantly moist soil. Fertilise in Spring and mulch well before Summer.
- Bignay – Antidesma bunius
Bignay leaves are tart and may be used to flavour rice, salads, vegetables dishes. This medium tree does well in full sun or part shade, and can handle a range of soil types.
- Native Gardenia – Atractocarpus fitzalanii
May be enjoyed raw on their own or used in salads, tarts, cakes and other desserts. Be sure to shelter it from strong winds and the harsh afternoon sun. It prefers warmth and moisture
- Sandpaper Fig – Ficus coronate
They can be eaten fresh (after removing the furry skin) or dried, or cooked into cakes, pies, biscuits. It tolerates cold climates, poor soils, low light, heavy pruning and some neglect, however it is somewhat frost sensitive.
- Small-leaved Tamarind – Diploglottis campbellii
Recipe favourites include jams, jellies, sauces, fruit chutneys, spreads and coulis.. This plant is a prolific fruiter, capable of bearing many kilos in a harvest.
- Boobialla – Prostanthera rotundifolia
Aromatic, juniper-like qualities makes Boobialla an exciting local botanical for essential oils and gin.
- Waterbush – Myoporum montanum
Like tomatoes, apples and rhubarb, some parts make great tucker while other parts may be harmful in large quantities or if prepared incorrectly. Waterbush is a hardy, woody plant that’s adaptable to most soils and growing conditions.
- Native Mulberry – Pipturus argenteus
They are soft and juicy, with a sweet and delicate flavour. Native Mulberry trees are dioecious, meaning they may be male or female. They prefer warm climates, full sun and soils with good drainage.
- Native Oregano – Myoporum insulare ‘Prostrate’
A strongly aromatic herb, Native Oregano is a superior native substitute for common oregano. Though Native Oregano will tolerate light frosts and full sun, it prefers temperate, partly shaded conditions.
Representation of local Indigenous culture can be demonstrated in many ways in and around your service and incorporating a bush tucker garden will build on levels of cultural awareness, understanding and bring change for an education journey that children can thrive in.
Bush Tucker Plant List, Gaias Organic Gardens
Bush Tucker Garden, Macquarie University
Raising Awareness Of Aboriginal Culture, Communities At Work
Beginners Guide To Bush Tucker, AATKings