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Plant identification guides:
Bush tucker food forest

Information about medicinal qualities of plants, or about their use as medicines, is for interest only, and is not intended to be used as a guide for the treatment of medical conditions.


As with all medicinal applications of Australian bush foods, please do your due diligence and consult with First Nations or other Australian herbal specialists before utilising as a remedy for any condition.


Some parts of the plant may not be edible or some may need preparation before they are safe to eat or use in any way. We do our best to describe their traditional & modern uses. It is the reader’s responsibility to ensure they are fit for their intended use.


We can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Cocky Apple

Scientific name:

Other Names:

Planchonia careya

Native pear, cockatoo apple, billygoat plum, Wulngum (Malak Malak), Pindaylany (Matngala), Mangal or Pamkujji (Jawoyn)



Cocky Apple

Basic info:

The Cocky Apple is a common tree across northern tropical Australia and down the east coast to about Fraser Island, in open forests and woodlands. A common understory plant, it is usually between 4 and 10 metres high, and briefly deciduous in the dry season. Before they fall, the leaves develop ‘autumn colours’ (rusty orange). The bark is grey, rough, slightly corky, and fissured.

The leaves are oval-shaped and taper to the base. Their upper surface is a shiny light green, and a duller green on the underneath. They feel a little leathery to the touch, and their margins have slightly rounded teeth.

The flowers are large, white and fleshy, with many pink and white stamens up to about 6 cm long. It flowers at night and the heavily scented flowers fall to the ground in the morning.

The fruit is green, egg-shaped and smooth, with an unusual green ‘whisker’ projecting from one end, and can grow up to about 9 cm long. The plant only fruits once a year – which is as the first rains start (October/ November) and that bright green flush goes through the bush.

The fruits are eaten when they are still green but soft to touch and they are best to pick when still on the tree. The yellow inner flesh is eaten and has the rich creamy texture similar to avocado and sweet taste with fragrant overtones.

Uses and Interesting Information:

This is a very important tree to Aboriginal people with a wide range of uses:

  • The fleshy pulp of the ripe fruit (soft and green) can be eaten raw or roasted (some say they are better roasted); it is suggested that the pulp and seeds be sucked out leaving the skin and fibres. The fruits can be added to smoothies or eaten on toast with freshly ground pepper.

  • The inner bark of the tree is smashed and mixed with water to make medicine for skin conditions and headaches.

  • The roots and bark of the tree are used as ‘fish poison’: the red inner bark of the tree is chopped and added to small water bodies, fish are “stunned” and rise to the surface of the water, allowing them to be easily collected.

  • The heated leaves can be placed over mosquito and sandfly bites to relieve irritation.

  • Bark is also used to make belts and dilly bags.

  • Timber is used to make boomerangs.

  • The roots and bark of this tree contains saponin, a chemical which makes a soap-like froth when boiled in, or shaken with, water.

  • Flowers were used as decorations.

The fruits are a food source for many larger birds and animals too such as cockatoos (hence the name) and possums. Frill neck lizards are often attracted to the tree and hang out in the branches.

It is also well known as a ‘calendar plant’, when it flowers, it is a signal that is time for fishing barramundi.


  • Recipes to come

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