Saturday, June 13, 2009

Crows Apples

Owenia venosa
Family: MELIACEAE 
These fruits by the roadside in Connolly’s Road, Geham, are starting to colour up beautifully. Crows apples are typically plants of dry rainforest, of the kind where hoop pines grow - but here they are remnants, in a very exposed site on an ironstone ridge. There may once have been an extensive patch of dry rainforest there. The bower vine flowering with them is also a lovely specimen, with unusually white flowers.
Crows apples are obviously desirable garden plants, being small, shapely trees with dense shady canopies and these pretty fruits. They say you can eat them, and they taste sour - but I’ve never really wanted to try.
The plants will sucker if pruned, and there is evidence of this at the Connolly's road site where some earth-moving machinery would have interfered with the natural, single-trunked growth habit of some of the plants. This characteristic means that the plants could be grown as a good hedge or windbreak.
The seeds are famously difficult to propagate, and no-one seems to have found the secret of consistent success. They tend to remain alive and healthy for a very long time, but refuse to germinate.
One hint is that they tend to come up in scrub turkey’s nests. Perhaps burying them in compost would help? Leaving them there for years might also be part of the secret.
Some people suggest that finding very old fruits under a tree - ones which have worn down, with time, to a smaller size with thinned seed coats, will help. Sandpapering the fruits - and passing them through a pig - have also been quoted as methods which methods which have achieved success, but the failure rate is still high.
If you’ve had success, I’d enjoy hearing from you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I note that Burringbar Rainforest Nursery sells the Owenia venosa Patricia so maybe you should ask them how they propagate them. One of our Kingaroy & District SGAP members has tried seed without success. Since they sucker, maybe taking a cutting or a root cutting would work?

Frank S.