Kangaroo Apple Growing – What Is A Kangaroo Apple Plant?
A kangaroo apple plant is a shrub or small tree with a very large fruit called a kangaroo. They are native to Australia and New Guinea. There are two species of kangaroos: the wallaby (Macropus eugenii) and the thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus). Both species were hunted to extinction by humans, but some populations survived. Today they are found only in Tasmania and parts of northern Australia. These animals have been known to eat kangaroo meat, which is considered a delicacy in their home country.
The kangaroo apple is native to Australia and New Guinea, where it grows wild along riverbanks and rocky outcrops. It produces white berries that resemble miniature grapes. The fruits are edible, but they do not taste like grapes.
The fruit is eaten raw or cooked into pies, cakes, puddings and jellies. It can also be dried and ground into flour or powder for use as a substitute for sugar in sweets such as gumdrops.
There are many different varieties of kangaroo apples grown all over Australia. Some grow tall; others grow short; some produce red berries while others produce yellow ones. There are several varieties that produce green or purple fruit.
The fruits range in size from a medium tomato to about the size of a tangerine or an apple. There is even a variety that produces very small, pear-shaped fruits about the size of a large grape. Most kangaroo apples are eaten fresh, but some are used to make jellies and jams or boiled down into syrups for flavoring cakes and desserts. (Also read: Growing coffee in your backyard is easier than you think)
The kangaroo apple plant can reach a height of 15 to 30 feet (4.5 to 9 meters). The trunk has few branches and the leaves have wavy edges and are dark green in color.
In spring, kangaroo apple plants produce heart-shaped leaves as well as flowers that look like creamy-white trumpets arching up from the branches. The fruit ripens in autumn and it usually takes about a year for the fruit to fully ripen. The mature green kangaroo apple turns yellow and then red as it ripens. The fruit has a sweet, acidic taste and is extremely juicy. You can eat the skin and seeds of the kangaroo apple, but most people remove them before consuming.
These plants are native to Australia, but there are several places outside of Australia where they have been cultivated successfully. They do best in temperate areas with a minimum of 40 cm (16 inches) of annual rainfall. Kangaroo apples prefer sandy or gravelly loam soils and they don’t grow well in areas with high humidity.
In addition to Australia, these plants can be found in New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom and various islands in the South Pacific. They can be grown in large containers and made to thrive on patios or terraces in areas where they would not otherwise naturally grow.
In Australia, kangaroo apple plants are seen growing along riverbanks and in the outback. The fruit is so popular there that many people plant them in their yards. People can also find them in old homesteads and abandoned farms along with other edible and useful native plants.
These plants can be propagated through seeds, cuttings or by bending and burying the stem to produce new roots. Seeds need to be nicked or scarified before planting. They can be propagated during spring in a hot bed and transplanted into the garden later.
It’s better to transplant seedlings rather than older plants because the mature plants will not have enough energy stored to grow new roots after being transplanted.
Bare-rooting is the best way to transplant older plants. Dig a trench two spades deep and loosen the soil in the bottom of the trench. Cut back any side roots and transplant the plant into the trench so that the crown of the root ball is level with the soil line.
Fill in the trench, water well and keep well watered for the first month.
Kangaroo apples need at least 42 cm (16.5 inches) of water a year. They also need to be fertilized to promote growth and heavy bearing.
Use a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or an organic alternative. Spread the fertilizer under the canopy of the plant, but do not place it against the stem. Too much fertilizer will cause the plant to become toxic.
Kangaroo apple plants can suffer from aphids and mites as well as disease from too much moisture. Aphids are tiny, green, ants with wings. They congregate on the leaves and drain the sap.
They produce a sweet substance called honeydew as they suck the sap which is then often infected by a sooty mold. Mites are tiny red or yellow spiders that also suck plant sap but they also damage the leaves by skeletonizing them. These pests can be controlled with an approved insecticide recommended by your local nursery.
There are some extensive greenish or yellowish markings on the leaves of kangaroo apple plants, this is known as chlorosis. This is due to an iron deficiency. It can be treated by applying chelated iron application such as Suex O.
The fruit can be harvested whenever it reaches the desired color and size. The biggest apples will fall off when they are ripe so you won’t have to harvest them. They can be stored for months in boxes in a cool place.
They make a nice snack and are high in vitamin C. You can also make apple sauce, jelly, juice, apple butter, apple vinegar and many other products from the fruit.
The kangaroo apple plant is a highly useful plant that can be grown in your yard. They are easily propagated, grow quickly and can produce hundreds of apples over a short period of time. The plant is decorative and can be used to create a privacy screen or to add shrub texture to the landscape.
When choosing a site for your kangaroo apple plant, keep in mind that the more sun it gets the better it will grow. It can tolerate partial shade but will produce more fruit with more sun. It can even survive in the semi-shade of taller trees as long as it’s not getting a lot of competition from other plants.
It can also grow well in artificial light in a room with big windows.
The plant is not particular about soil type or pH but does need good drainage, so don’t plant it in a low-lying area that holds water after rain or where surface water floods. If the soil is too rich it may rot the roots, so add some organic matter to the soil before planting. It will grow in rock gardens or on a paved area as long as there is good drainage.
The kangaroo apple plant is not particular about the amount of water but it does not like to be overwatered so never stand in water and make sure there is good drainage.
It can survive temperatures below freezing but not more than an occasional light frost. The biggest problem is too much water. Root rot can be a problem if there has been a lot of rain or if the area has a high water table.
Applying a thick layer of mulch will help to preserve moisture and keep the roots cool in hot weather.
Kangaroo apple plants are propagated by seeds, hard wood cuttings and softwood cuttings. Seeds require light to germinate so just spread them over the soil and pat down gently. Keep the soil moist but not wet and wait for spring.
Cuttings should be between 4″ and 8″ long and the bottom 2/3 covered in a light media such as vermiculite or sand. The top 1/3 should have the stem ends covered in a growth hormone rooting powder and then stuck into a hole in the ground up to the bottom leaves. Keep the soil moist but not saturated and in a few weeks you should start to see new growth.
To determine gender, plant the seed in early spring after the last frost. If it’s a male, it will have small yellow flowers in autumn. If it’s a female it will have none.
A leaf will grow on both types if you pull it up in the spring.
Once it starts to produce fruit, you can eat as much as you want but make sure to leave some for other animals and birds.
It’s a very hardy plant and can survive mild winters in zone 5, It’s not particular about sun or shade but warmer climate trees will provide more shade in the summer so the roots don’t overheat and rot.
You may find that your Kangaroo apple has brought wildlife into your yard. Deer seem to love them and will paw up soil in search of the sweetest apples.
A few years after planting you may find it necessary to thin out the branches as they can grow very heavy and break under the weight. You can also experiment with cutting some of the branches back in the spring for a bushier plant.
One of the best things about this tree is how fast it grows. From a cutting you can expect fruit in three years and some of the varieties will produce up to thirty pounds of fruit. It does best in zones 5-9 but can still survive as far north as zone 3.
Once established, it’s very drought and cold tolerant so you don’t need to spend time and money protecting it.
The only thing you will need to do is harvest the apples and keep an eye on the birds.
You can also let it grow naturally and use it as a screen or a privacy hedge. It can get quite wide so you may want to trim it from time to time.
The Kangaroo Apple is a great addition to any garden, easy to grow and maintain and its fruit is enjoyed by humans and wildlife alike.
You can find a list of different varieties at your local nursery or you can order online.
Now, you just need to decide what to call your tree!
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Pathological studies on leaf blight and fruit rot of Kangaroo apple in India. by S Sunita, LN Bhardwaj – Indian Perfumer, 1990 – cabdirect.org
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