The Marsdenia (Bush Banana) vine grows on Acacias in most parts of arid Australia, from Kalgoorlie to the far east coast. In fact, the name Kalgoorlie was derived from the local indigenous name for this plant – Kurgula. Around Alice Springs it is called Langkwe, and in the Flinders Ranges it is Myakka.
It is being successfully cultivated in South Australia’s Riverland so a continuous supply is very much a reality.
Marsdenia are really the “pantry of the desert”, as they have four different edible parts. The fruit is shaped like a small avocado and has a wonderful flavour not unlike crunchy snowpeas and zucchini when small, that becomes woody and fibrous when fully grown. The plant exudes a sweet white sticky sap when fruit or leaves are plucked from the stem, and the fruit contains high levels of thiamine. The flowers are quite spectacular and can be eaten straight from the vine, in fruit salad, or as a garnish. The fresh young leaves are great in salads and the yam (or tuber) in the ground at the base of the vine ensures they immediately respond after a bushfire.
The Marsdenia fruit are a wonderful green vegetable, boiled or microwaved with butter, lemon juice and mountain pepper, or sliced raw into salads, stir fried or used whole in casseroles.