Silver or Blue Quandong
This fast growing Australian tree, naturally occurring along moist watercourses in the coastal area from mid New South Wales to north Queensland and the Northern Territory, is not suitable for a small garden but it is a wonderful tree for larger gardens and parks. Its common names are Silver or Blue Quandong, Blue Fig or Cooloon.
The scientific name is Elaeocarpus grandis from the Greek elaia = the olive tree and karpos = fruit and grandis = big.
My two trees were planted about 1997 and have been fast growing with open branched tops. The interesting point about their root structure is that they develop buttress roots which prop the trunks up especially in wetter conditions. Some are forming on mine now.
The flowers are produced in huge numbers during the autumn and winter. They form many clusters amongst the branches. Flowers are white to greenish-white and the petals are fimbriated or finely cut. Some references say they are not scented but mine seem to have a general pleasant scent when in full flower. Tuis and Waxeyes enjoy the nectar from the flowers.
Unfortunately Fruit Drilling Moth has attacked the fruit before they are fully ripe which caused them to drop off. The skin is blue and I have been told that they taste like dates when fully mature.
I stripped the thin greenish fleshy layer off some of the fallen fruit and inside is the most beautiful hard stone which could be described as a carved brain. I have found that a close relative that grows in Asia produces an identical seed which has been used by the Shiva worshippers since at least the 11th century as prayer beads called Rudraksha. They are also nowadays mounted with gold, silver and pearls and worn to bring good luck. Have a look at www.agt-gems.com/Rudraksha.html Inside the hard stoned fruit are several cells with a seed in each. These stones can be used for making necklaces.
When the leaves are fully mature they turn into wonderful shades of red before they fall, particularly during the summertime.
The timber is white to pale brown and is very supple and straight grained and is light in weight. It is grown as a plantation crop and could be a crop for New Zealand. Timber is used for plywood, boatbuilding, furniture etc.
Here is a tree that can stand drought or wet, that grows quickly and makes a good specimen tree and has edible fruit. What more could you wish.