‘Peanut Tree’

Sterculia quadrifida

Aboriginal names: Dundil (Larrakia), Malikini (Tiwi), Balkpalk (Yolngu) and for the seeds, Egng edndan (Uw Oykangand, Ow Olkola and Mayi pinta (Pakanh).

The Peanut tree is a bit deceiving with its name – if you’re imagining a fresh batch of peanuts, you’re mistaken. The ‘nuts’ of this tree are actually black seeds that taste nutty, and can be eaten in a similar way that you would peanuts. 

Peanut tree is found in Northern and Western Australia. It grows rather quickly which is great news for gardeners. The tree bark is light grey and the leaves are in a heart shape and dark green.

They tend to spread out so as the tree grows, it can produce some nice shade. If you’re living in a colder area, the tree leaves might drop off during winter. Sterculia quadrifida is not a fan of frost.

The peanut tree can grow between 5 to 10 metres tall and 4 metres in width. Once the tree is established it’s able to handle quite strong winds so it can provide a bit of a wind break.

The peanut tree is actually a rainforest plant and is related to the hibiscus and cacao. You can’t eat the pretty leaves in the same way you can the seed. In the summertime, the native peanut produces perfumed creamy white flowers.

After the flowers come the green seed pods which then turn an orange red colour and start splitting open when they are ripe. It’s a good idea to pick them before they are completely opened up.

The peanut tree has very eye-catching seed pods that are an orange and red colour. When the fruit is ripe, they pop open and you will see black seeds inside. These nuts as they are also called can be eaten raw or otherwise roasted.

It’s best to remove the seed skin first. In the same way that peanuts can be eaten on their own as a snack, or added to other dishes, you can do the same with the seeds of the native peanut. 

Some people add them to ice cream, and you can do the same with salads. The taste of the seed is similar to macadamia, cashew, pine nut, or peanut (hence the name). To roast these delicious gems, you can pop them on the barbeque, in the oven, or even the microwave. 

Also known as the Kuman, orange fruited kurrajong, orange fruited sterculia, red fruited kurrajong, smooth seeded kurrajong, white crowsfoot, small flowered kurrajong and monkey nuts.

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