Reverence for the bunya bunya

One of the critiques of permaculture is that, in attempting to be a theory of everything, it has failed to contribute real progress on any of the manifold fronts it addresses. Had Mollison and I spent our lives planting, managing and selecting oaks and bunya bunyas, we might have made a greater contribution to a benign energy descent future. On the other hand, we have inspired many others, a few of whom have contributed significantly to the still very slow expansion of knowledge of, breeding, and use of tree crops. Peter Brew was one of those few, a keen observer, independent thinker and energetic practitioner whose potential to contribute to a better energy descent future for humanity through tree crops, was cut short by personal misfortune exacerbated by an affluent but ignorant society unable to recognise, let alone reward, his genius. When Oliver and I harvest the first nuts from the Spring Creek Community Forest grove, I will start a new nursery bed to contribute to the hybrid vigour of the future bunya bunya groves of southern Australia to honour Peter’s contribution to an abundant future.

You can download the article Reverence for the bunya bunya (full text).


9 Responses to Reverence for the bunya bunya

  1. will May 28, 2014 at 8:49 am #

    Nice read David!
    I managed to distribute several thousand seeds this Autumn, many of them sprouting.
    Was in reverence of the Bunya Bunya when you wrote this.
    Collected from Goulburn, Wagga, Canberra, Beechworth, Bright, Yackandandah, Wangaratta, Bermagui, Albury (got some Monkey Puzzles as well), and a few towns I’ve forgotten.
    Ate loads, planted some to eat the tuber next year, but best of all, passed on lots to a bunch of permies for planting, so hopefully my grand kids will feast on them.
    I’ve got a few dozen Monkey Puzzle seeds left-very easy to sprout, happy to send you some.

    • David Holmgren August 14, 2014 at 10:42 pm #

      Probably too late for sending some Monkey Puzzle seeds but would love to try some in our marginally cool climate.

    • Shane Simonsen October 31, 2017 at 4:41 pm #

      Hi Will and David
      This is a very late reply to an old post but perhaps you will see it. It appears I am one of those people brave/mad enough to take on Araucaria breeding. I just hit 40 and retired full time to my ex-dairy farm in the sunshine coast hinterland, right in the middle of bunya territory. I am doing quite a few breeding projects for low input/regenerative agriculture but hesitated to take on Bunyas until I discovered that they can hybridise with the parana pine A. angustifolia. The plan is simple- intermingle a wide selection of local bunya with imported parana pine, cull the male parana pines so all the female paranas will only be producing hybrid seed. I will also be culling out the last 50% of the bunyas to mature as my only aim is to produce precocious hybrid seed. I might get a second generation in before I drop off the perch, but I would be happy enough to just distribute precocious hybrid seed as far and wide as possible. Most domestication events begin with hybridisation of related species and I believe this is the way to reproduce the process for this most promising of plants.

      If Will can get me any seed of A. araucana when they are available I would be interested to add them into the mix, though they may not like our hot climate. Three way hybridisation seems to be pretty common in domestication events and this seems like the best marginal third species. My email is void_genesis at hotmail if you want to get in touch.

  2. Mick Brew August 13, 2014 at 6:01 pm #

    Thanks David peter talked about you often
    Its goof to hear something so positive about himHe was both an inspiration and aggrevati. on to me which Mau or may not need explanation to you
    I’m not proficient with computers etc so don’t check often it is great to hear from you thank you and I know I’m remiss in making contact myself .life goes on here
    Cheers and thanks again

  3. Duston December 14, 2017 at 3:39 pm #

    Hi there, I’m reading conflicting reports about whether bunya is monoecious/diecious. In order to get nuts, just how many bunyas should I be planting? Will one suffice? Thank you.

    • megu December 14, 2017 at 4:53 pm #

      Hi there, David says that it’s best to plant in a group but sometimes one will self-pollinate as they are wind pollinated. I hope this helps.


  1. Welcome tour season at Melliodora - Holmgren Permaculture Design for Sustainable Living - September 15, 2014

    […] The bunya pines in the nearby gully, planted a mere 28 years ago, are starting to produce cones. They, along with the fire resistant blackwoods, are part of the long term regeneration of the gully. Come back in ten years and taste the deliciously edible fruit (nuts) of the bunyas! […]

  2. Permaculture Activism and the Future - Holmgren Permaculture Design for Sustainable Living - October 28, 2014

    […] Reverence for the Bunya Bunya […]

  3. Planting for the future: exploring tree time | Trees, Bees & Cheese - August 30, 2015

    […] Excitingly, it feels as if much of the major infrastructure for the farm is now in place, including the largest chunk of revegetation. Now we’re up to watching, tweaking, filling in the gaps, and beginning to think about utility plantings for food, timber and forage. This year, we’ve planted trial woodlots in three awkward areas with soil that’s been hostile to the local indigenous species planted in previous years (we’re trialling Acacia salicina, Eucalyptus occidentalis and Casuarina cunninghamiana). We’ve also put in a handful of the iconic Bunya-Bunya Pines (Araucaria bidwilli). They’re a long way from their subtropical home in southeastern Queensland, but we’re hopeful! (David Holmgren has recently written an interesting article on the Bunya-Bunya available here). […]

Leave a Reply