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The Bunya Bunya is a huge evergreen tree native to Australia and reaching up to 45 metres tall, with sharp, leathery leaves. It lives and fruits for hundreds of years and is highly valued as a food source by Aboriginal peoples.
Closely related to the Paraná pine and with similar growth habit and similar tasting nuts.
The nuts are high in carbohydrates and have good amounts of protein, and taste like a cross between a Pinenut and a Chestnut. They can be boiled, fried or roasted, and are absolutely delicious.
The nuts are formed in large cones which are 20-35cm in diameter and can weigh up to 18kg, and unlike the Paraná pine these fall from the tree whole, so choose where you plant these trees with care! The shell of each nut is a little bit thicker and harder to get into than those of the Paraná nut, but the fact that the cones can be collected whole probably means the processing time is similar for both species.
Bunya Bunya trees can tolerate poor soils and dry conditions, but prefer good drainage. They can handle light frosts when established but need protection when smaller. Trees are known to grow as far south as Christchurch. They are wind pollinated with male and female flowers usually being produced on different trees, so 3-5 trees are recommended to ensure cross pollination. Can potentially be cross pollinated by the closely related Paraná nut. Our own trees are still small, but we expect flowering to commence at around 10 years of age.
We believe this tree has massive potential in Aotearoa as a producer of staple food, given the high carbohydrate value of the nut, the high yields from each tree, and their long productive lifespan.