Lorikeet with Black Beans

· Guest post by Malcolm Tattersall ·

No, this isn’t a recipe.

The Black Bean in my title is a local tree, Castanospermum australe, and you wouldn’t want to cook with its seeds because they are too too big and too toxic. Two of our neighbours in Mundingburra have well-grown specimens and I am simply taking this opportunity to share an October photo of its attractive flowers.

I know the tree as a local species but didn’t realise just how limited its range was until I looked it up: a patchy distribution along our tropical coast, and that’s all. Nor did I realise just how high it can grow – forty metres. (I wonder if our neighbours know, but I’m not going to tell them in case they start worrying and get their trees chopped down. We need all the trees we can get, and these are very beautiful.)

Black Bean timber is both beautiful and rot-resistant. The latter quality has seen it used for fenceposts, but that seems a terrible waste when it makes such attractive furniture.

According to the Australian National Herbarium, “it is native to coastal rainforests and beaches in Australia from around Lismore, New South Wales to the Iron Range, Cape York Peninsula, on the Queensland coast and 160 km west to the Bunya Mountains. It grows in moist, fertile, well-drained soils on terraces on the side of mountains or along the banks of rivers and streams.” It also grows in many Townsville primary school grounds, where the heavy seed pods tempt children into mischief.