Quandong Santalum acuminatum
How to sow quandong: Direct seed
Sun requirement for quandong: Plant in Full Sun
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Quandong, or Desert Quandong, is tall evergreen shrub or small tree in the Sandalwood (Santalaceae) family. It is native to the central deserts and southern parts of Australia. The trunk has dark gray bark and leathery ovate leaves. Flowers are 2-3 mm in diameter, fragrant, white or green on the outside, and red or brown on the inside. Plants produce round red or yellow fruit after they are 4 years old. Fruit are 2-3 cm across and look like a brain once their hard, waxy shell is removed. They have a tart flavor similar to peach, apricot, or rhubarb. Quandong are high in Vitamin C and are a popular bushfood. They are also used as exotic flavoring. The plants are hemi-parasitic: they can photosynthesize, but acquire nutrients beyond sugars from the root systems of other plants like grasses and trees without harming the host plants. Propagation can be tricky. Direct seed in a pot after soaking and partially cracking three-year old seeds with a vice or nutcracker (older seeds have a higher germination rate). Germination can take 1-4 months at ideal temperatures of 15° C. Transplant seedlings outside within 10 m of a host plant such as a local, indigenous grass or flowering pea plant.
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