Macadamia Nuts

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

macadamia nuts from the trees Macadamia integrifolia and M. tetraphylla, indigenous to Australia, are among the finest nuts in the world and are remarkable, historically, in several respects. They were not ‘discovered’ until the second half of the 19th century; they are unique among Australian food plants in achieving international renown; yet they have, in a sense, been purloined from Australia by Hawaii.

The trees are native to the vicinity of Brisbane in Queensland in NE Australia; and the nuts used to be called Queensland nuts. They were no doubt eaten by Aborigines, as a minor foodstuff gathered from the wild, but remained otherwise unknown until two eminent botanists came upon the trees. One of them, von Mueller, described the tree botanically, and the other, Dr Hill, named it for his friend Dr John Macadam.