Brisbanites are being encouraged to hunt through their backyards and local reserves for wild macadamia trees as part of a project to conserve the Australian super nut.
While plantation macadamia trees are abundant in Australia, their once-plentiful wild relatives are under threat, with estimates suggesting 80 per cent of all wild macadamia habitat has been lost since European settlement.
In response, Healthy Land and Water has launched ‘The Wild Macadamia Hunt’ with the support of Brisbane City Council.
The project is calling on Brisbane residents to find and register wild macadamia trees so they can be genetically analysed to help determine the best way to conserve the species for the future.
The hunt is on for wild macadamia trees that were planted 100 years ago or more, long before macadamia farming and the importation of exotic trees limited the genetic diversity of macadamia trees in Australia.
Old trees are often found growing naturally in rainforest scrubs or areas that once were rainforest, or those planted many years ago by indigenous people or early settlers in backyards, acreage blocks, pastoral properties, old orchards or local parks.
Healthy Land and Water CEO Julie McLellan said there are potentially thousands of wild macadamia descendants hidden away on private properties or in bushland throughout Brisbane.
“Government estimates suggest about 30,000 wild macadamia trees may have been planted across Brisbane and we need your help to find them,” she said.
“If we can build a catalogue of wild trees and their samples, we will improve our understanding of macadamia genetics and that will inform conservation priorities and the commercial potential of wild macadamias.”
The project is looking for three species of macadamia: Queensland nut, Rough-shelled bush Nut and Gympie nut.
If residents register a relevant tree, Healthy Land and Water will send the resident a leaf collection kit, and the returned sample will be stored for future genetic analysis.
For more information on The Wild Macadamia Hunt and wild macadamia trees, visit www.hlw.org.au/macadamias