Bush Coconut

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Bloodwood Gall, Merne arrkirlpangkwerle

Aboriginal people have eaten native bushfoods for several thousands of centuries on the Australian continent. Bushfoods were very important alimentary resource in Australia. Bush food is an important reference to any native fauna or flora, which are also used for culinary and medicinal purposes.

The bush coconut is a sort of fruit that grows on the Desert Bloodwood Eucalypt trees (Corymbia terminalis), which grow in the Australian deserts and can notably be found in the Alice Springs Desert Park.

The Aranda People, a tribe living in the Arrente lands of Central Australia, have eaten this product, known as Merne arrkirlpangkwerle. The product is actually the result of a symbiotic relationship between the three and an insect: the female (Cystococcus pomiformis), a coccid insect with no legs, wings or antennaes, which attaches itself to the tree. The tree activates a defense mechanism and grows as a “gall” around it, where the insect lives and breeds.

This gall looks like a small knobbly fruit: it is a woody, round, stem gall that can reach 9 cm in diameter. The large juicy female insect can be more than 2 cm long.
The gall is knocked out of the Bloodwood Tree if high on the branches or hand picked if low on the branches, then with a rock, you hit it with another rock to split it open. The white nutritious flesh lining of the gall is scraped out and consumed and tastes like coconut. The little insect inside the gall, can also be eaten and it is full of water. The little grub inside tastes really sweet.

With the loss of traditional lifestyles with indigenous people being moved to towns or loss of access to traditional lands has resulted in reduced access and usage of native foods by indigenous cultures.

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Territory

StateAustralia
Region

Northern Territory

Other info

Categories

Fruit, nuts and fruit preserves

Insects

Indigenous community:Aranda
Nominated by:Gabriele Volpato
Arca del GustoThe traditional products, local breeds, and know-how collected by the Ark of Taste belong to the communities that have preserved them over time. They have been shared and described here thanks to the efforts of the network that Slow Food has developed around the world, with the objective of preserving them and raising awareness. The text from these descriptions may be used, without modifications and citing the source, for non-commercial purposes in line with the Slow Food philosophy.