Where Can I Find Idiot Fruit?

Across the world, there is a vast array of different foliage, fruit, and plant species. While some have interesting names (or nicknames), none may be quite as odd as the “Idiot Fruit”. No, this is not fruit with low intelligence!

The Idiot Fruit, also known as the “Green DinosaurOpens in a new tab.“, is one of Australia’s most distinctive and oldest types of trees. The quirky name of “Idiot Fruit” is from the idiosyncratic nature of the species, while “Green Dinosaur” is considered a nod to its ancient lineage.

The Idiot fruit can be found in the Daintree Rainforest located in Far North Queensland. The Daintree forest is situated above Cairns and before Cooktown. As a general rule, “Green Dinosaur” is very toxic to humans and animals and should not be consumed due to its paralytic abilities to animals.

When And Where Was The Idiot Fruit First Discovered?

The scientific name for the idiot fruit is “ribbonwood Idiospermum Australiense” and it was first discovered in 1902, by a German botanist named Ludwig DielsOpens in a new tab., while visiting Australia. He had documented the tree and collected flowers from it in order to take them back to Berlin.

Interestingly enough, the species was cultivated in the Berlin Herbarium for decades, however, during the bombings in World War 2, the specimen was entirely destroyed.

For that timeframe, many botanists argued against the species’ uniqueness, stating that Diels’ discovery was merely a common garden plant. It was assumed that this species somehow made its way into Queensland’s moist tropics and that there was nothing special in regards to this tree.

This was much to do with the fact that upon first glance, this flowering evergreen appeared consistent or indistinct from many other species.

However, it wouldn’t be until the 1970’s that this amazing species would truly gain notoriety and recognition across the globe. It was at this time that a known Daintree grazier, John Nicholas, discovered that multiple cows in his herd had mysteriously died.

He was under the assumption that his cows had been poisoned and immediately notified the authorities. A government veterinarian was then called in to perform an autopsy on the deceased cows.

During the autopsy, the veterinarian found relatively intact Idiot Fruit seeds within the cows’ stomachs. He noted that the seeds had caused the paralysis of all nerves in the body and as a result, untimely deaths.

The seeds were then sent to the Queensland Herbarium and soon after, Nicholas and the veterinarian were informed that they had made the botanical discovery of the century.

What Makes The Idiot Fruit So Unique?

One of the most interesting facts about the Idiot Fruit is that it can be found nowhere else in the world. The species is native to and solely resides in the rainforests of North Queensland – with the largest remaining populations existing in the Daintree.

Aside from this, the Idiot Fruit is considered to be one of the oldest plant species in existence – with some believing that this tree may be over 120 million years old. This is because the species has genealogical characteristics that match fossils from well over 80 million years ago.

Aside from the sheer age and specified location of this tree, there are many other unique characteristics of it. The seeds of this tree are quite the oddity themselves, with most resembling the size of an adult human’s fist. These massive seeds have been known to produce seedlings that are anywhere from 80cm to 1m in height.

At the same time, the seed leaves of this tree are very peculiar. Modern flowering trees are known for hosting one or two seed leaves, which are generally only able to produce a single sprout. However, the Idiot Fruit doesn’t conform to the modern rules of botany and carries up to eight seed leaves at a time.

Because the Idiot Fruit is incredibly divergent from any other known species, it is considered to have greatly increased the biodiversity of the Wet Tropic areas in Queensland and more specifically, Daintree.

What Other Fruit Grows In The Daintree Rainforest?

As the Daintree Rainforest is considered a tropic climate, it is home to an abundance of tropic fruits. Some of the most notable fruits that grow within the Daintree are:

  • Davidson plum
  • Mangoes
  • Macadamia nuts

The Davidson plum is a fruit that is entirely native to Australia. Visually, this unique fruit takes on the appearance of an enlarged blueberry – being darkly coloured and with a soft pulp-like inside. These plums ripen during the Queensland winter months and are generally not consumed in their raw form, due to their sharp acidic taste and very low sugar content.

Most of the time, they are cooked and added to a wide array of summery dishes, sauces, jams, baked goods, and even the occasional wine. Finding these plums can be difficult, so getting to try one should be considered quite the treat.

Although mangoes are not considered native to Australia, the tropical environment of the Daintree plays an excellent host to them. The bright yellow and orange fruit is known globally for being absolutely delicious. Similar to any other stone fruit, the mango can be found growing on large trees.

As for macadamias, they are by far Australia’s most famous nut. These delicious nuts are native to both Queensland and New South Wales. Known for being one of the toughest nuts to crack, they are incredibly popular in both sweet baking and savoury dishes.

Humans are one of the only known mammals that are able to consume macadamias because of their tough exteriors. While there are four known species of macadamia nuts, only three are regularly grown and produced, as the fourth is toxic to humans.

What Plants Grow In The Daintree Rainforest?

There is a vast array of plant species that reside within the Daintree Rainforest. Some of these tropical species include

  • Epiphytes
  • King ferns
  • Pandanus

Epiphytes are a phenomenal example of another odd plant that calls the Daintree Rainforest home. Epiphytes are tropical plants that survive without a single root in the ground. They have the ability to both trap the nutrients required for growth and can store water for long periods – often being supported upright by another plant.

These plants can grow to massive sizes, which can cause them to come crashing down onto the rainforest floor. However, this does not take away from the fact that epiphytes create their own ecosystems, which is a phenomenal characteristic.

King Ferns are known for being one of the largest and most ancient types of ferns in the world – making them a true sight to marvel at. The Daintree Rainforest is one of the last places in Australia that one could see a King Fern, as the inevitable drying of the continent has caused them to die off.

These ferns need a constant source of moisture, as it helps to support their massive fronds – which can grow to be about 5m in length.

Pandanus, also commonly called the “Scrub Breadfruit”, is another species of plant that can be found throughout the Daintree Rainforest. This plant was originally used regularly by the local Aboriginal people. They would eat the fruit and make use of the long leaves, by creating woven baskets or using them for their shelters.

The fruit itself provided a good source of food, however, the Aboriginal populations took the extra step of removing the small seeds or kernels from the core, and turned it into a delicious and nutritious damper – also known as “bush bread” or “seedcake”.


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