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What is a Quandong?

Jennifer Fenn
Jennifer Fenn

The quandong is a fruit-bearing wild bush or shrub naturally found in Australia. Fossils of this bush have been found in the outback, leading some to speculate it may be the oldest fruit-bearing plant on earth. Several varieties of these plants are now also being cultivated on plantations for commercial purposes.

Santalum acuminatum is perhaps the common type of this plant and is also known as desert quandong. These trees have pale green leaves, small white flowers and are typically two or three meters tall, though they can grow larger. These trees flourish in arid and semi-arid climates. These trees are considered semi-parasitic, since, after growing from seeds, they leach water from the roots of other plants. For this reason, the trees can thrive regardless of the soil and water quality in their environment.

Camels often feed on quandong.
Camels often feed on quandong.

High in vitamin C, the quandong fruit is a deep red when ripe and has white flesh. These fruits are approximately the size of an apple. Some say it tastes similar to red wine or a mango. This edible type fruit, sometimes called a wild peach, is found on santalum acuminatum trees. Quandongs were a staple of the aboriginal diet, whether eaten fresh, dried or made into jam. Tea made from this fruit was used by aborigines to flush toxins from their systems. Rheumatism and skin problems were also treated with it. The desert quandong’s kernel can also be used for decorative purposes or eaten. These plants are eaten by camel, leading to them becoming somewhat scarce in nature.

The small blue fruits found on elaeocarpus angustifolius trees are also known as blue, silver, and brush quandong. These fruits have a sour taste. Likewise, the fruits found on santalum murrayanum trees, also known as bitter quandong, have an unpleasant taste and are not generally eaten, though they resemble the fruit of the desert quandong in color and size.

Discussion Comments


Do you know what quandong literally means in Wiradjuri language?

Wiradjuri is an aboriginal tribe in south western NSW, the language is not recorded anywhere that I know of.

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    • Camels often feed on quandong.
      By: ruticar
      Camels often feed on quandong.