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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!

Is it edible? taste it and see...

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:

  1. Make sure you have a Google account.
  2. Save the map Edible Brisbane: Public Fruit to ‘my maps’.
  3. Click ‘edit’.
  4. Click the marker symbol and zoom in on map to place marker in exact location.
  5. Enter title and description.
  6. Click ‘save’ and ‘done’ once you have finished adding.
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15 Responses

  • Emilia lay
    January 28, 2017 at 12:15 am

    Since finding this website only 3 minutes ago I’ve already added multiple fruit trees like papaya, avocados and guava all in the front of my complex they are all bearing fruit now. I’m so glad this website was made its so nice to see I’m not the only one who gets excited when the see a fruit tree on their way home

  • Calder
    January 12, 2017 at 12:23 am

    Are these markers still valid?

    • January 12, 2017 at 11:42 pm

      I haven’t been foraging for a while so I can’t confirm which markers are still valid. But I would say the majority are.

  • cassie
    July 28, 2013 at 8:03 am

    Hi thank you so much for this website I am getting silk worms for my family day care I run from my home in lawnton I uses your map to find mulberry trees well done to everyone for putting this site together :)

    • August 14, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      Silkworms? How interesting. I would be keen to follow how this goes. Will you be keeping a blog?

  • August 1, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    The council appears to have removed the Malabar Chestnut and replaced it with an inedible Tulipwood. We need to change the culture of the council.

    • paul bobbins
      April 16, 2015 at 10:50 pm

      unfortunately local council and the general population think fruit trees are messy

  • Horst
    May 13, 2010 at 9:23 am

    Thanks heaps for the mention of my GoogleMap. I started it as a personal record to keep track of seasonal fruit crops with which I could make jams and jellies. I’m happy to share: a benefit shared is a benefit doubled.

    It would be excellent if the Brisbane City Council planted more fruit bearing trees and shrubs in their tree planting programme. Any fruit not used by locals would be welcomed by our friends the fruit bats, possums, et.al (and perhaps they wouldn’t feel the need to raid my fruit and veg. garden).

    Looking forward to mulberry season. I made some awesome guava jelly from fruit picked in the Toowong Cemetery a few months back. 8-)

    • May 13, 2010 at 1:05 pm

      Hi Horst! We really appreciate all of the work that has gone into your map. I have been in touch with another google map creator see ‘ Feral Fruit Map Brisbane’ who is really keen to get in touch with you and maybe collaborate to create one giant Brisbane map. Is it ok if I pass your email on to him? I am editing a video at the moment of an edible street tour a group of us did in West End a month back.

      • November 1, 2011 at 6:07 pm

        keen to get in touch with you/ Horst/someone about running another tour

        May 2012 looking to have festival talking about public space and this topic could be great to raise awareness
        http://www.urbne.com/festival

        neighbourhood walking tours also alighn with international Jane Walks – that is celebrating neighborhoods http://www.janeswalk.net/

        if interested love to hear from you

    • May 18, 2010 at 11:28 am

      Hi Horst,

      A neighbour, Luke, organised a street tree planting with the help of the local council last year. We tried to get some edible species included but they would not have a bar of it, in spite of there being perhaps a dozen Lilly Pillies already on our street, which I have used to make jam and sweet chilli sauce. Luke handled the communication with the council, but on the day I asked the people responsible why they do not like to use edibles. The answer was that people might poison the tree making the fruit toxic to people. It’s fear of litigation that is a major factor. It is ironic that much of the food bought at the supermarket is legally poisoned without label.

      We planted mostly Tulipwood trees, and one of them was pulled out inexplicably. Me and Luke took it as an opportunity to plant the Malabar chestnut I added to your map. It also was vandalised, pulled up and snapped, but it’s regrown beautifully. Another Tulipwood tree further up the road was ringbarked. There is someone around that doesn’t like trees.

  • May 5, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Will have to look at the conditions this Kei Apple grows in! There are several at Northey Street but they don’t fruit.

    I’ve added to the Edible Brisbane map on my street in New Farm :)

    • May 6, 2010 at 9:14 am

      Will have to make it out to Northey Street one of these days… thanks for the add to the map, I’ve never tried a malabar chestnut before :)

  • May 5, 2010 at 12:15 am

    great post as usual!

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