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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.

Rusty pittosporum

Scientific name:

Other Names:

Pittosporum ferrugineum

Rusty-leaved pittosporum, Rusty Orangeberry, Rusty Mock Orange.



Rusty pittosporum

Basic info:

This is an evergreen plant native to Northern Queensland, Northern Territory,  Southeast Asia, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Its preferred habitat is beach forest, but it also grows along edges of swamps, along the seashore, along rivers, in dry bushes and in open savannah land – sometimes as undergrowth in rain-forests or secondary forests. It grows at elevations up to 1,800 metres. It is commonly found in abandoned mining sites.[1]

It is a large bushy shrub or small tree with dense canopy growing to about eight metres in height. The leaves are elliptical and grow to about 12 cm long and 1 cm wide. It produces clusters of small five-lobed white flowers with yellow centres, with faintly honey-sweet scent.

Fruit consists of a round yellow capsule with brown seeds embedded in sticky red flesh. The Pittosporum (“pitch-seed”) name of the genus is due to this stickiness of the seeds.

New growth (twigs, leaves and flowers) is densely covered in fine rusty-brown hairs − giving rise to the common name − but becoming less hairy as it matures.

This plant is regarded as a weed in some regions.[2]

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[2] See also Tim Low (2001), “A Challenge For Our Values: Australian Plants as Weeds”, Plant Protection Quarterly Vol 16(3), p133, where he says: “A species such as rusty pittosporum (Pittosporum ferrugineum W.T.Aiton ex. Dryand.), which is unknown to most weed experts today but which is highly invasive near the Gold Coast (Low in press), appears destined to become a major weed. There may be many similar species on their way to becoming serious invaders.” [Back]

Uses and Interesting Information:

The fruit, according to some, is not to be eaten.[1]

However, other uses are:

  • The bark is used as an antidote to poison. It is shredded, baked in bamboo and then eaten with traditional ash salt and green vegetables. This enables the victim to vomit the poison.

  • The root bark is pressed into the cavity of an aching tooth in order to bring temporary relief.

  • A mixture of the chewed bark and traditional ash salt is dripped into the nose to treat an enlarged spleen caused by malaria and to treat stomach ache.

  • The macerated leaves and fruit have been used as a fish poison to stun the fish and make them easy to catch: the leaves and fruit bind up the oxygen, forcing the fish to the surface where they can be scooped or speared with ease.

  • The leaves were used traditionally as a poultice for malaria or fever.


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