Kurrajong - How to grow a healthy plant


Image from Melbourne Bushfood


    The Kurrajong is a large deciduous tree growing to heights of over 30 metres if planted into the ground. Vibrant red flowers coat the tree giving the impression the plant is covered by a beautiful red flame. It has been an important food source of Aboriginal Australians, with the seed pods and the young roots becoming and important protein and carbohydrate source.

      Origin

      The Kurrajong (Brachychiton acerifolius) or the Flame Bottletree comes from the subtropical and tropical eastern coastline of Australia. Yet, despite being from such warm conditions, the Kurrajong thrives in cooler climates and is often planted by councils in large open parks.

      The seeds pods, roots, and tubers of young plants were all consumed by Aboriginal Australians. The seed pods are a rich source of protein (18g/100g) and after removing the fine hairs that coat the seed pods, would be ground into a flour and used in damper. During periods of droughts, the water-heavy roots were dug up and used as a source of water, with young plants (<1 year old) being roasted over coal fires as a nutritious vegetable. 

      Despite their restricted natural range, they've quickly become popular across Australia and internationally for their no-fuss nature and low water requirements. The seed pods became a supplementary food source of early British Colonists. In the 1920's to 1930's, the Kurrajong was extensively recommended as a fodder plant for sheep and cattle across the country, but failed to become popular as a mainstream food source after the establishment of European species as food in Australia.

      Image from Melbourne Bushfood

      Good for:

      - Beginners

      - Pots

      - Indoor Plant

      - Frost

      Water

      Drought Tolerant

      Sunlight

      Full sun/part-shade

      Size

      30m+

      Planting

      Planting in pots

      The Kurrajong is a great indoor pot plant. They require only 6-8 hours sunlight each day, so placing them under a sunny window is recommended.


      Use a high-quality, premium potting mix, and make sure the pot is well draining. Overwatering or sitting-in-water can cause damage to the plants roots. 


      Bonsai-ing of the plant is popular as the plant doesn't die from root-bounding, although for a healthy plant, keeping well pruned is a must in pots.


      Planting in soil
      Kurrajong grow exceptionally well in all soil types and can be grown for their beautiful flame-like display of flowers which appear in late summer in some years. They do not flower annually like other flowering species.


      They will grow to over 30 metres, so future planning is recommended.


      Maintenace

      Watering

      The Kurrajong is a drought-tolerant species requiring regular watering only in the first year of planting into the soil. For pot plants, regular watering is recommended in indoor-settings (weekly).


      Harvesting

      Seed pods develop only in mature trees over 6+ years old.


      To harvest the seeds, trim them from the tree, and before removing the husk, ensure you have a long-sleeve shirt, gloves, mask, and eye protection. The fine fibres coating the seeds are extremely irritable, and after removing from the husk must be removed.


      Either leave the seeds in a bag for a long period until the fibres fall naturally from the seed, or scorch the seeds with a hot flame for a short period of time.


      After removing the fibres, roast like nuts with spices for a delicious and protein-rich snack, or use a mill to create a nutrient rich flour to be added to sourdough, or other baked goods.


      Fertilizing

      Use a high-quality native fertilizer every year, and water occassionally with a seaweed solution to ensure strong soil microbial health.

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