- New research shows a single 19th-century tree in southern Queensland gave rise to the world’s dominant plant variety.
- The small Queensland town of Gympie has been identified as the origin of 70% of the world’s macadamia nuts.
- Hawaii’s macadamias appear to stem from a small group of trees, or possibly just a single tree, in Queensland, Australia.
A majority of the world’s cultivated macadamias are grown in Hawaii, but they are actually indigenous to Australia. A recent study has shown that Hawaii’s macadamias, which produces 70 percent of the world’s macadamia varieties, originated from a single tree in southern Queensland, Australia from the 19th century.
Researchers from the University of Queensland traced Hawaii’s macadamia tree nut crop back to one single cultivar. It was then brought to the region from a small town in Queensland and cloned repeatedly.
Craig Hardner, a horticulturalist at the University of Queensland and one of the researchers leading the study:
“A small collection of seeds were taken to Hawaii at the end of the 19th century and historical records suggest that there [were] maybe six trees grown from that sample of nuts that were taken by Robert Jordan and planted in his brothers’ backyard in the suburbs of Honolulu in 1896.”
However, researchers have found signs that the diversity of Australia’s macadamias is not as strong and healthy as it used to be.
The trees that researchers studied could not be identified to different samples acquired from the wild, which means “there was some diversity at the time of European settlement that has been lost to commercial macadamia production systems,” Hardner noted.
He said the next step was to focus on forest conservation. With climate change happening, Hardner shared that it is very important to distinguish the “unique genes in the wild and prioritize those populations for conservation.”
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