Summer heralds the sounds of loud thuds at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, as the Bunya Pine begin to drop their cones. This year the large cones have already started to hit the ground but only time will tell if this is going to be a bumper crop and break records.
What is a Bunya Pine?
The Bunya Pine (Araucaria bidwillii) is a native of the subtropical rainforests in the mountains in south-east and northern Queensland and closely related to Australia's other living fossil the Wollemi Pine. The Bunya Pine can grow up to 35-45 metres in height and live for 600 years. The nuts can be 20-35 cm in diameter and weigh up to 10 kg, yielding enough seeds for a bushtucker feast.
Cultural significance of the trees
It has been a sacred tree for indigenous Australians for a long time and an important source of food, kindling, timber and fibre. Perhaps not as well known as pine nuts, the Bunya Pine’s large edible seeds can be eaten raw, roasted or cooked in hot coals to make bread. The tree has many other common names in various aboriginal dialects such as Bunya-bunya, Banza-tunza, Banua-tunya, Boonya, Bunyi, Bahnua, Bunya, and Bonyi-bonyi.
The importance of the tree and nut as food wasn’t lost on early European settlers, reminding them of roasted Chestnuts from home. In the past century, Australian companies like Maton and Cole Clark Guitars have discovered that the timber of a Bunya Pine is ideal for making exceptional acoustic musical instruments.