A familiar part of the landscape for years, Macadamia trees are rapidly becoming even more of a White River “Thing”. The surge of demand in China drives their rise in place of some of our surrounding Eucalyptus plantations.
First introduced here in the 1960’s, the local macadamia industry has grown into a major world force. There were more than 7.5 million new macadamia tree planted in 2016 and more than 95% of annual production is for international markets.
We looked into some history and found that both of these White River icons originate downunda in the Land of Oz. We also found:
The indigenous people of eastern Australia ate them for thousands of years and knew them, among other names, as gyndl, jindilli and boombera. One of my favourite names is “Mullumbimby Nuts”
The German–Australian botanist Ferdinand von Mueller gave the genus the name Macadamia in 1857 in honour of the Scottish-Australian chemist, medical teacher and politician John Macadam.
In the 1860s King Jacky, aboriginal elder of the Logan River clan in Queensland, was the first known macadamia entrepreneur, as he and his tribe regularly collected and traded the macadamias with settlers.
In 1881 macadamia nuts were introduced to Hawaii as a windbreak for sugar cane. Only about a decade later did they start growing them commercially and from then on the race was on with Hawaii leading the way into mass production and the US market growing.
In 1997 Australia finally surpassed the United States as the major producer of their native macadamias, and around 2014 South Africa surpassed Australia as the largest producer of Macadamias.
But lookout: China is busily planting their own trees like crazy – it’s enough to drive you nuts!