The Permacultivator - Journal of Cool Climate Permaculture
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Growing Quandongs

from the CountryMan newspaper, WA, Oct 4 1990

Firstly, quandong trees are part parasite.They usually have a host plant or tree. In natural bush any tree or shrub seems to fit the purpose.

My observations suggest the quandong tree is very variable. In the bush in places where a lot of rain run-off occurs you often find a lot of young quandong seedlings growing, sometimes as many as 100 plants. Not all of these will grow to maturity or even survive long enough to become small trees.

Rabbits and other bush creatures eat them but a few always seem to survive.

Quandongs also grow well in drier conditions and fruiting can be particularly heavy in dry years. It seems to "rest" and fruit every second year. However a tree in my home garden first produced fruit five years ago and since then has had an excellent fruit crop every season except this year when it produced none.

These trees seem to remain mostly free of disease and parasites but a small fly sometimes ruins the fruit.

Quandong fruit makes excellent jams, chutneys and pies.

To grow seedlings I like to use seed that is at least a year old as it seems to need time to "weather" in sun,rain, cold and heat. An unscientific way to germinate the seed is to gently crack the woody shell, then wrap in a damp, but not wet towel. A few seeds will simply go mouldy but it is successful with most. Put the germinated seed in a pot of damp soil, together with a host plant. This can be kikuyu, grass, lucerne, or anything elsethat is available.

My tree produces extraordinarily large fruit, although the quandong it was grown from was quite small. The fruit is tight skinned, very red and has thick flesh. Cuttings of bud wood from my tree have been sent to CSIRO for grafting onto Quandong trees in Victoria.

Quandong fruit is now being marketed by the CSIRO in South Australia at a factory near Hahnsdorf which makes home style jams and other specialties.

Bill Mollison adds

The usual germinator of the quandong is the Emu. The aborigines climb to the top of the trees taking only the fruit at the top leaving the lower fruit for the emu which of course they recognise as the true germinators. The aboriginals also hide in the trees and hunt the emu when they come for the fruit.

Quandong germinate from nuts. You just hang them in a plastic bag in peat moss. As soon as they sprout plant them with a companion such as gaziania daisy. Then plant the quandong within the root mass of any larger tree. They are not true parasites but need a friend to get started.

The Ajna-metana of the Flinders Ranges of South Australia call quandongs ooti and know of some special trees called oola ooti which havelarge superlative fruits. They know several varieties including trees with good nuts and others with good fruit. Their custom is to collect their own nuts from emu dung. There are some special large trees that grow in the damp hollows of sand dunes.