Seed Swaps

Bunya Season!

12 Feb 2012
Cloudy 33°C / 91°F

No room in my yard for one of these giants (Araucaria bidwilli), but look what I got from the tree across the street ;) I am always surprised to see people park their cars on the footpath under this tree. This cone weighs over 5 kilos, and is not the largest I’ve seen.

This is the first cone I’ve gathered that wasn’t already starting to crack open. Either the ground was too soft to crack the cone, or it was a premature fall caused by the wild bit of wind we had had the night before.

Gus thought it smelled edible and nibbled on the very prickly thing for a while before giving up. I will not be so easily deterred as I love the kernels and my freezer stash is nearly gone. Edible roasted, boiled or even sprouted, the kernel is more starchy than oily, like a chestnut. The inner shell around the kernel is a real bear to get off when boiled, but roasting ones can explode out of their shells. The kernel can be eaten as is, or chopped/ground to make many delicious things, like Bunya fritters. They are also quite nice when added, shell on, to the water cooking a piece of corned meat.

Bunyas tend toward heavy and light cropping years, and this year is a heavy one from what I am told. When there is a glut there will be roadside stands selling the cones or kernels. I’ve put out the word to a friend who will be driving in an area with a lot of these trees to buy me a few kilos.

I used to have a Bunya I grew from a seed as my potted Christmas tree, but after a few years I tired of having to wear leather gloves and gauntlets to decorate the prickly thing.


1) The giant across the street

2) Viewed from the front yard, the Bunya is the tree in the middle.

3) Gus and the Bunya cone. For scale, the dog is 44 cm at the shoulder.

4) Halved

5) Completely ‘disassembled’. The shell covering the individual nuts is thin and tough, but not brittle. Easy enough to cut them in halves, but removing a nut whole is not something I am interested in doing more than once.



Holy moly, I wouldn’t like to be standing under the tree when one of those falls! Is there one kernal inside the cone? It must be quite large?

Posted on 20 Feb 12 (over 6 years ago)

The cone has several kernels, like a pine cone. While I have not heard of anyone being killed by a falling cone, I have seen what they can do to a parked car! They make a fair racket as the cone crashes through the branches, so I guess people just run?

DH arrived home with another one he spotted across the street on his way home. It is nearly the same size and also tightly closed. Guess I know what I’m doing this weekend.

Posted on 20 Feb 12 (over 6 years ago)


Folia Helper


holy heck… now thats big.. ouch if you got in the way.

Posted on 20 Feb 12 (over 6 years ago)

Wow ! I’ve never hear of, nor seen one of those before. Thanks for posting the info and photos.

Posted on 20 Feb 12 (over 6 years ago)

It has started to separate so I’ve taken a photo of the inside with one kernel removed. If you don’t get to husking the nuts when the cone starts to separate you risk having them go mouldy.

Posted on 20 Feb 12 (over 6 years ago)

Wow – that is a HUGE cone!! And it looks like one makes a pretty satisfying harvest (and a substantial extraction project). Very cool – thanks for posting the photos and information. The tree itself is attractive, and I don’t remember seeing a photo of your front yard from this perspective before – the flowers are lovely, and the metal fence looks very nice.

Posted on 21 Feb 12 (over 6 years ago)

I was at Nelson Bay (2 hours north) a couple of weekends ago and there was a grove of Bunya Pines that were surrounded by a fence of rope to prevent people and cars from going under them and getting donged. It’s been a while since I’ve eaten the nuts. I’ll have to check out the local state forest, they have a grove of them there.

Posted on 21 Feb 12 (over 6 years ago)

Redloon, the nuts are very easy to remove from the cone and that is how I freeze them. I face the shelling as I want them, so between batches I conveniently forget how tedious THAT is.

Poppyde, the roped off idea sounds much more sensible than trying to remove the immature cones from such tall trees. I have heard some councils try/tried this, which seems a bit daft. While the cones make a racket coming down and I could probably move out of the way fast enough, I still feel a bit nervous while picking them up from under the tree.

We picked up two more yesterday. Good luck at the state forest!

Posted on 22 Feb 12 (over 6 years ago)


Folia Helper

United Kingdom10a

Wow! That’s quite a seed cone!
Isn’t ‘Monkey Puzzle’ one of the Araucaria? Looks very similar.

Posted on 24 Feb 12 (over 6 years ago)

Well spotted Amorel! So are Norfolk Island ‘Pines’ and Hoop ‘Pines’. I think that Bunyas are the only araucaria that has an edible nut.

The cones keep falling off the tree and I and DH keep collecting them. We are up to seven! They will last in the freezer for a very long time and don’t fruit heavily every year so I’m stocking up.

Posted on 25 Feb 12 (over 6 years ago)


Folia Helper

United Kingdom10a

One of the UK’s celebrity chefs – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – actually climbed a Monkey Puzzle tree (with a LOT of help!) to collect the nuts on one of his River Cottage TV programmes.
It’s particularly interesting for me because my son did a couple of courses at Bicton College a few years back and we used to drive up the unique and stunning avenue of huge Monkey Puzzle trees that led to the main campus.
He also made a recipe with the nuts!

Posted on 29 Feb 12 (over 6 years ago)

Armorle, thanks for the links. I had no idea monkey puzzle nuts were edible. It seems that the ground beneath the trees will be littered with nuts because they break open when ripe. That sure beats climbing for them and seems a lot better too than having tree with large cones crashing to the ground!

Posted on 01 Mar 12 (over 6 years ago)

I have tracked down the TV show Armorel mentioned. I still have no idea what they taste like, but the crunch of a raw one being eaten sounded much crispier than a Bunya. Now to find a Monkey Puzzle tree somewhere handy… It seems they are relatively common in both Washington state and BC, so if one of you ever curious Folians would like to track down some nuts and let me know what you think?

Posted on 03 Mar 12 (over 6 years ago)


Folia Helper


Seems it must be a really good year for them as they have made the news down here to. Warning over watermelon-sized pine cones

Posted on 06 Mar 12 (over 6 years ago)

Graybeard, they’re scarier than drop bears! I haven’t seen cones under this tree in the six years years I’ve lived here (and they are hard to miss). The male cones are in the outer 1/3-1/2 of the branches, and the female cones are closer to the trunk. This design discourages self pollination,so maybe it will happen in these lone trees only in very good years?

Posted on 11 Mar 12 (over 6 years ago)

Would you like to add a comment? Sign up for a free account, or log in if you're already a member.