Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ella Bay’s Magnificent Mackinlaya Fruit

Before I start I’ve got a bit of a warning to you all. Many Australian rainforest fruits are very toxic and as yummy as they appear, please don’t give them a taste test as they can make you really ill. Here endeth the warning!

A few months ago I noticed a beautiful rainforest shrub growing within metres of the beach at Ella Bay. Upon returning to my home I did a bit of Google searching, emailed some friendly experts and deduced it was the rainforest shrub Mackinlaya confusa or the very similar Mackinlaya macrosciadea but as the fruit on it matured I became more convinced it was confusa….are you confused yet?? Let’s just play it safe and call it a Mackinlaya!

Its certainly is no rainforest giant but will grow into a large shrub given suitable conditions. This shrub can be found from Cape York to Cardwell and I was happy to see it at Ella Bay as it’s also a cassowary food plant. Here’s a photo of the plant when I found it in mid June 2009.
Well as you can see the large umbels of fruits that were forming on the plant drew my attention to this plant as did the whorls of leaves which were similar in appearance to those of a Queensland umbrella tree Schefflera actinophylla.

Each time I visited Ella Bay I would pay a visit to this shrub and check on the progress of its fruit and slowly they began to swell and show a touch of colour. The following photos were taken in mid August 2009 two months after the first photo.
I continued visiting this plant and took my final photos In September 2009 and a stunning transformation had taken place. Gone were the pallid green fruits I saw 3 months earlier as they had matured into wonderful bunches of rich plum coloured fruits just begging to be consumed by a passing cassowary. They even had a similar blush on them to a ripe blueberry. My words don’t really do justice to the fruit so here are the photographs!
Well now some of you will be saying well that’s all pretty interesting Russ but what’s the big deal?

Well here is the big deal!!

Dave Kimble was good enough to share his video of a cassowary eating Mackinlaya confusa fruit in the wild on you tube a couple of years ago. On his website Dave has published a bit of a story about Mackinlaya confusa and I invite you all to pay it a visit on his website.

I thank you Dave Kimble for your great story.

Well here’s the part where I tell everyone how important beachside cassowary food resources at Ella Bay are to these big birds and how bad Satori’s planned 3 kilometres of cassowary proof roadside fencing will be. Imagine how you would feel if you were hungry and went to the shops only to find them open and full of food but some nimrod had put a fence around them to keep you out (and hungry).

Before I go one last thing!

My next story will be about another cassowary fruit and this one is a real hand full or beak full if your one of Ella Bay’s endangered southern cassowaries …here’s a photo to get you interested.
Back in a few days with a cassowary plum or two!

Cheers Russ

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