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5 Australian Natives To Grow in a Food Forest

These five Australian natives provide food and habitat for beneficial birds, insects and other animals in your food forest garden.

Well-designed food forests and forest gardens are a versatile food production solution that, in addition to producing food, are able to provide for a wide range of animals and fungi that create the connections between the plants in our garden.

Australian natives are worth including in forest gardens anywhere in the world.

The flora of Australia has evolved to support a huge range of insects and birds, and Australian ecosystems are some of the most productive in terms of flowers containing nectar and pollen.

The selection of Australian natives below will help you to select the species to support your fruit trees and aid in the creation of highly diverse model ecosystems.

5 Australian natives to grow in your food forest

wattles acacia

Wattles: Acacia species (family Fabaceae)

Wattles are perfect plants for a forest garden. There is a huge variety of species, and yields include pollen, habitat, microclimates, firewood, timber and mulch. These plants are legumes and fix nitrogen in the soil, making it easier for all plants to grow.

Acacias fit really well into early succession environments, but will need to be cut back and managed as the forest garden matures.

Species to plant

Acacia floribunda, A. howittii (sticky wattle) and A. rubida (red-stemmed wattle).

5 Australian Natives To Grow in a Food Forest callistemon

Bottlebrushes: Callistemon species (family Myrtaceae)

Bottlebrushes are beautiful and excellent support plants for a forest garden. Their long, colourful flower spikes provide an aesthetic quality to the garden, as well as good food and habitat for native birds and insects.

The leaves are often aromatic which can assist in pest control, and their dense, shrubby foliage is perfect for birds to live in.

Species to plant

Callistemon citrinus, C. subulatus and C. viminalis.

growing prostanthera

Mint bushes: Prostanthera species (family Lamiaceae)

Prostantheras are in the mint family, with deliciously aromatic foliage, and provide flowers that are perfect for beneficial insects, and essential oils which assist in pest control. Their dense foliage also provides good habitat for beneficial birds.

Species to plant

Prostanthera ovalifolia and P. rotundifolia.

5 Australian Natives To Grow in a Food Forest grevillea

Grevillea species (family Proteaceae)

Grevilleas provide beautiful, large bird- attracting flowers which were also traditionally used by humans as a source of sweet nectar.

Additionally, plants in the Proteaceae family have special roots for obtaining phosphorus from the soil, and then recycle this nutrient when the leaves or branches are mulched.

Grevilleas are versatile, but the best for food forest gardens are spiky shrubs such as Grevillia juniperina and G. rosmarinifolia which have abundant flowers, and provide great habitat for insect eating birds.

Species to plant

Grevillea lanigera ‘Mt Tamboritha’ and G. ‘Raptor’, and the prostrate form of Grevillea juniperina.

5 Australian Natives To Grow in a Food Forest westringia

Westringia species (family Lamiaceae)

Westringias are extremely hardy native shrubs. Being from the mint family, their flowers are perfect for providing food for beneficial insects.

It is important in a forest garden that there are flowers and food available for these insects and all pollinators throughout the year, and some westringias have abundant flowers year round.

Species to plant

Westringia fruticosam, Westringia glabra and W. longifolia.

You can find the full version of this article in Issue #4 of Pip Magazine, which is available here.

Like more articles like this one? Subscribe to Pip Magazine’s print or digital editions here.

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