Bush Tucker Plants: Growing and Using

Course CodeBHT328
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn to Identify, Grow and use Australian Indigenous Plants for Food

There are many Australian plants that are edible, and even some that are in very high demand as foods throughout the world.  The Aborigines lived off the land before white civilization came to Australia. Plants contributed significantly to their diet. Many of these native plants are worthwhile growing ‑ others might not be.  There are many different types of bush tucker foods, including: 
  • Nuts and seeds (eg. Acacia, Macadamia, bunya nuts)
  • Drinks (eg. hot teas, infusions of nectar laden flowers, fruit juices)
  • Flavourings (eg. lemon scented myrtle)
  • Berries (eg. Astroloma, some Solanum species)
  • Fruits (eg. quandong, Ficus macrophylla, Syzygium)
  • Vegetables
  • Wattle seeds ground to produce ‘flour’
  • Plant roots ground to produce a paste or flour

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Scope
    • Is it Edible
    • Native Plants to be Cautious with
    • Understanding Plant Toxins
    • Nutritional Value of Bush tucker
    • Plant Identification
    • Naming Plants
    • Hybrids, Varieties and Cultivars
    • Plant Families
    • Pronouncing Plant Names
    • Resources
  2. Growing
    • Understanding Soil
    • Improving Soil
    • Feeding Plants
    • Growing Australian Plants on Low Fertility Soils
    • Planting Procedure
    • Mulching
    • Pruning Australian Plants
    • Propagation
    • Seed
    • Collecting, Storing, Germinating Seed
    • Difficult Seeds
    • Seed Germination Techniques
    • Handling and raising seedlings
    • Asexual Propagation (Cuttings, Division, etc)
  3. Gathering
    • Introduction
    • Ethics
    • Bush Foods as A Commercial Venture
    • Gathering Acacia Seed
    • Developing a Bush Food Garden
    • Designing a Bush Garden
    • Selected Native Trees for a Bush Tucker Garden
    • Selected Shrubs for a Bush Tucker Garden
    • Selected Small Indigenous Australian Plants for a Bush Tucker Garden
    • Rainforest Gardens
    • Desert Gardens
    • Edible Arid Zone Bush Tucker plants
    • Water Management
  4. Nuts and Seeds
    • Macadamia
    • Araucaria
    • Aleurites moluccana
    • Athertonia diversifolia (Atherton Oak)
    • Castanospermum australe
    • Hicksbeachia pinnatifolia
    • Acacias
    • Using Acacias (eg. Wattleseed Essense)
  5. Vegetables
    • Native Spinach (Tetragonia tetragonioides)
    • Pigface (Carpobrotus sp.)
    • Longleaf Mat Rush (Lomandra longifolia)
    • Solanums (Bush Tomatoes or Kangaroo Apple)
    • Blechnum indicum
    • Apium prostratum (Sea Celery)
    • Native Lilies
    • Microseris lanceolata (Yam Daisy)
    • Dioscorea transversa (Wild Yams)
    • Native ginger Alpinia caerulear
    • Seaweeds
  6. Fruits
    • Astroloma
    • Austromyrtus dulcis (Midgen Berry)
    • Billardiera sp (eg. Appleberry)
    • Davidsonia purescens (Davidson’s Plum)
    • Eugenia spp. and Syzygium spp. (eg. Bush Cherries)
    • Ficus (Native Figs)
    • Planchonella australis (Black Apple)
    • Quandong (Santalum)
    • Rubus sp (Native Raspberry)
    • Other Fruits ...lots more outlined
  7. Flavourings, Teas, Essences
    • Backhousia
    • Curcuma (related to ginger)
    • Eucalyptus
    • Leptospermum
    • Soaked Flowers (eg. Grevillea)
    • Acacia
    • Alpinia caerulea
    • Tasmannia sp
  8. Using Bush Tucker Plants
    • Develop your ability to identify, select, and develop processing procedures, for a range of varieties of bush food plants selected.


The short answer is -"more than you would imagine!"

There are many thousands of plant species that are indigenous to Australia, and hundreds of those can in one way or another, be a food source.  Here are some examples:

Austromyrtus dulcis (midgen berry)
Spreading shrub to 2m native to Qld and NSW (but can be grown in cooler climates with protection); grows best in moist, sandy well-drained soils and partial shade, and resents frost.  This plant produces delicious, edible sweet white berries with purple spots.  Plants have glossy dark green lanceolate leaves around 9-30 mm x 3-10 mm wide with numerous conspicuous oil glands; coppery coloured and covered in dense silky hairs when immature. The flowers are 7-10 mm and with white ovate petals. They are usually borne in clusters of 2-5 flowers in the upper axils, although solitary flowers are also common. A. dulcis flowers in spring and summer but in cooler climates flowering is more common in mid autumn. Easily propagated without scarification from fresh cleaned seed, (germinating in 3-4 weeks) uncleaned fruits take approx 5 weeks; propagates easily from cuttings.

Banksia ericifolia
From Eastern NSW R and reliable in gardens in a wide range of districts; prefers acid, light to medium and well drained soil. Grow well in full sun or semi shad; fertilisers with a high phosphorus component should be avoided. Propagation from seed or cuttings is relatively easy.  Flowers are used to flavour drinks.

Coprosma quadrifida
(prickly currant bush)
Dense, spiny shrub to 3 m tall (branchlets often ending in spines) that has numerous, small, ovate opposite leaves to 5 to 15 mm long. Flowers are small (up to 5mm), 4 petalled, greenish and inconspicuous, and solitary appearing on the ends of the branches on short axillary shoots. Plants have male and female flowers developing on separate plants (Dioecious) throughout spring. The male flowers have 4 projected stamens; female flowers with 2 reddish stigmas 10 mm long. Fruit are translucent shiny pea sized red/orange, 7mm long 5mm across; sweet and juicy with one or two large seeds. They grow on damp sites ie. along creeks beds in woodland, sclerophyll forest and cool-temperate rainforests; common in the South and East of Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales. The fruit is usually eaten raw but can also be cooked.

Einadia nutans ssp. nutans (climbing or nodding saltbush)
A spreading, low growing woodland shrub/groundcover (under trees) to 1.2m prefers a warm, dry positioning full sun. Attractive small very sweet red berries. Leaves can also be eaten but need to be boiled first to remove salt. Flowers appear in autumn followed by a succulent red fruit, 2-3mm diameter in December- March. The seed are single flattened, disc shaped.

Hibiscus heterophyllus (native rosella)
A rounded shrub to 2m native to Qld and NSW; it grows best in moist, well drained soil in partial shade. Not frost resistant.  The buds are cooked and made into rosella jam, eaten raw in salads or boiled. Petals can also be eaten in salads.

Prostranthera rotundifolia and Prosanthera ovalifolia (native mints)
Fast growing short lived shrub (around 8 years) around 2m tall; the native mint leaf has a strong mint flavour, slightly peppery. It is useful in savoury and sweet recipes. A common ornamental garden shrub in the south-eastern states New South Wales, Victoria Tasmania and South Australia; leaves are used in dressings, sauces, curries, desserts and baking. Strikes readily from cuttings; seed is often unre¬liable, for best results use fresh seed. Need moist free draining soil but are otherwise undemanding and a lovely addition to the bush tucker garden.

Rubus parvifolius
(native raspberry)
A scrambling shrub to 1m that occurs in heathland and eucalyptus woodland native to eastern Australia; young stems are finely pubescent (hairy), becoming hairless with age. The leaves pinnate with 3 to 5 toothed leaflets. Flowers have red or pink petals. The small, sweet, red fruit is 1 cm wide and produced from December to April. Moist, well-drained position and full sun are preferred conditions for this plant. The deep red leaves, when made into tea, are used to treat diarrhea.


This course was designed for people who would like to grow and use Australian Bush Tucker Plants.
Anyone who works with food - from production and manufacture to selling and cooking, can find value in this course.

You may use this course to explore new and innovative possibilities as a grower or as a cook.

Whatever your purpose in studying Bush Tucker, you will expand your knowledge and awareness of foods that might be exploited as crops, to produce new food products and to create new menu items. 

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