Edible Brisbane ~ Food Plants in Public Spaces
On my birthday last month my partner and I spent the day in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens. It was past lunch time and our stomachs were starting to get that empty feeling but we were far from any good nutritious food. Walking down the main path back to the entrance we came across a tree we had never seen before with spikes between the leaves and small yellow fruit about the size of a plum. The tree was loaded with fruit and the ground below covered in fallen fruit. “What is this tree?” we asked each other, “is it edible?” at this stage we were very hungry. A covered rat trap had been laid under the tree and the fact that the name plaque had the word ‘apple’ in it was enough for us to decide that it COULD be edible and that it must be safe if the rats were eating it!
Later research concluded that the ‘Kei Apple’ tree is indeed edible, a native of South Africa, hardy and makes an excellent hedge, and the fruit a great source of vitamin C and makes a tasty jam.
The idea of having food plants in public spaces is a step towards sustainability and I think using low maintenance food plants in landscaping rather than ornamentals just makes sense. The plants are dual purpose – a source of food and nutrients, and they look nice and are helping to protect the soil from erosion and compaction. I hope to see more communities implementing perennial food plants into their beautification and landscaping plan.
A geologist from Brisbane who goes by the google user name ‘Horst’ has created a google map – Edible Brisbane: Public Fruit, that locates fruit trees on public land. A variety of trees including the native edible lilly pilly, mango, fig, guava, passionfruit and the kei apple that we found in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens are marked on this map. The map can be edited and added to, so if you know of any fruit trees on public land in the Brisbane region, feel free to add the location. Happy foraging!
View Edible Brisbane: Public Fruit in a larger map
Instructions on adding fruit tree locations on to Google Map:
- Make sure you have a Google account.
- Save the map Edible Brisbane: Public Fruit to ‘my maps’.
- Click ‘edit’.
- Click the marker symbol and zoom in on map to place marker in exact location.
- Enter title and description.
- Click ‘save’ and ‘done’ once you have finished adding.