Botanic Gardens rare fruit trees blooming

Raymond Johnson of Rare Fruits Australia established the orchard in Bundaberg Botanic Gardens in 2010.
Raymond Johnson of Rare Fruits Australia established the orchard at Bundaberg Botanic Gardens in 2010.

Rare fruit trees in the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens are blooming and residents are being encouraged to visit the area and taste their flavours before spring ends.

The orchard, which sits next to the Hinkler Hall of Aviation, is home to some of the most diverse rare fruit trees in Australia.

The list includes the Rainforest Plum, Soursop, Bulburin Nut and White Mulberry, just to name a few.

It’s a place often visited by Ray Johnson of Rare Fruits Australia, who said the season was so far producing some fantastic fruits and flavours.

“This spring has been an amazing flowering of all sorts of trees, no less here in the gardens,” he said.

“We have had trees flowering that haven’t done much in the past that are now just looking fantastic.”

Ray has played a big part in the Botanic Gardens, and the rare fruit tree orchard was his creation back in 2010 with support from other members of Rare Fruit Australia and Bundaberg Regional Council. 

He is also the convenor of the Friends of the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens.

Ray said there were a range of rare fruits at the gardens which were not only bountiful in flavour but also in colour and beauty.

“There is the Grumichama which is in full flower at the moment,” he said.

“The New Guinea Lau Lau has a beautiful bright red flower. They are really outstanding, and the fruit continues to be red as well.

“Another interesting one that we have here is the Imbe which is an African tree and it has literally thousands and thousands of small flowers- the branches are actually solid flowers.

“As it goes on the flowers fall away and we finish up having just a few odd fruit along the branch.”

Video: Paul Donaldson

Fairy floss and magic fruits make for fun taste

The orchard is also home to the Panama Berry, which taste like fairy floss and is a favourite among local wildlife, according to Ray.

“The Panama Berry is very sweet and is about the size of a small strawberry,” he said.

“It is well worth of having a taste, there is plenty of them but you will have to get in quick because the birds love them.

“The taste is like a strawberry and fairy floss.”

Ray said there was also the Miracle Fruit which, once eaten, made a sour lemon taste like pure joy.

“It’s fairly unusual … when the fruit is ripe and red you can eat it but you won’t think there is anything special about it at first,” he said.

“However, if you have a lemon on hand and you taste that straight after, it will make the lemon taste sweet, and that’s a miracle!”

What makes a fruit tree rare?

Ray said most of the fruits in the orchard were of the rare variety because they were unlikely to ever be seen in supermarkets due to their short shelf life.

“A rare plant is something that is not commonly found in the country or in fruit shops, mainly because they don’t transport well, they don’t last long; they need to be picked off the tree and eaten straight away,” he said.

“It’s quite a collection and something, I think, to be proud of.”

Ray said the rare fruit tree orchard was well worth a look … and a taste.

“Bring your camera along because you never know what you are going to find,” he said.

“If there is fruit that is ripe, have a taste. We don’t use any sprays so it is quite safe to eat so help yourself to one or two.”

The orchard can be found at the Botanic Garden just to the left of the Hinkler Hall of Aviation.