Whenever I see ripe fruit on the Common Native Cherry, I always pluck some for refreshment. While we certainly don’t NEED native tidbits to supplement our well stocked lunch boxes of sandwiches, fruits and nuts, it is a most sublime feeling to appreciate what the bush has to offer. The act of harvesting wild edible fruit, little as there may be, feels like a sort of communion. I give thanks for such opportunities.
The Common Native Cherry grows common in open eucalypt woodland. In it’s ideal state, the Common Native Cherry is a dense small dull green conical tree attaining a height of no more than 8 m. Most of the time though, a good proportion of the fruit-bearing branches are well within reach. Talk about low hanging fruit.
The branches are green, groovy and leafless, giving it the same general appearance of some native Cypress Pines (Callitris spp.). In addition, the Common Native Cherry sometimes has wooden galls as well, giving the impression that it bears cones. However, small spikes of minute yellow flowers present on the branches at most if not all times of the year will distinguish it immediately.
Also, the fruits of this tree are unmistakable. Usually only one flower out of the spike is fertilized and the fruit is really only the hard ovoid structure held on the end of a fleshy receptacle which gets more succulent and redder as the fruit ripens. In many ways these fruits resemble minute versions of the curious fruits of cashew nuts (Anacardium occidentale). The edible part is not actually the fruit but the red ripened and swollen receptacle, which has a sweet taste (See my DISCLAIMER). I don’t often see ripe ‘fruits’ on all trees in any one given locality so there must be some staggering of fruit production.
It might be surprising for some to learn that the Common Native Cherry is from the Santalaceae, the same botanical family that bears the well known sandalwood (Santalum album). Macabre is the thought that the ‘blood’ of the Common Native Cherry’s victims goes into the making of the succulent fruits we enjoy.
Sap-sucker or not, I imagine that the Common Native Cherry must have been to Tasmanian aborigines what wild blackberries are to Europeans. Wild sweet juicy fruit is good anywhere!