7 January 2008

Bush tucker

This is part of last year's rosella harvest.

Bush tucker is the aboriginal term for edible plants and animals. There are a few bush tucker foods in our area, we have lilly pilly, macadamia nuts, lemon myrtle and rosellas (Hibiscus heterophyllus). I'm sure there are more but I've never had the time to identify what grows near us.

This photo, taken this morning, shows an opening rosella flower with a couple of small red rosellas growing near it. These rosellas are only about a quarter of the size they will eventually grow.

Rosellas thrive here and we grow them every year for jam. I believe you can also eat the leaves as a kind of spinach but I've never tried it. This year we have planted a lot of rosella bushes as I want to make jam, tea and cordial using the rosella flowers. Hanno has had high blood pressure for many years and recent research at the Universiry of Queensland indicates rosellas may help reduce hypertension. My plan is to produce enough rosellas for the entire year so that Hanno may have rosella tea, cordial or jam every day.

Rosella jam boiling on the stove.

We've just had two weeks of rain and the half grown bushes were knocked around quite severely with the rain and wind. Side branches snapped off, as the bushes aren't very strong, and several of them have wilted. I hope we can save them.

I took this photo this morning. These bushes are still only small but are already producing edible fruit.

Rosellas grow in hot weather, so we plant our seeds in late September and plant the seedlings out in November. They like full sun and a fair bit of water. The fruits form after the pretty flowers fade. We grow the pink flower variety but there is also a yellow form.

If you live in a hot area, you should try growing rosellas. The jams and teas made from this bush are delicious. Do you eat any of your native foods? I'd love to know who is eating what and how easy your native foods are to find.

Recipes for rosella jam, cordial and tea. Rosella jam.

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