MALANDA FALLS VISITOR CENTRE What to look out for in December Black Bean Tree Gunyjuu Castanospermum australe The Black Bean or Moreton Bay Chestnut is a common large tree in the park, and is flowering now! Look out for carpets of large orange-red and yellow pea-shaped flowers. It is native to Vanuatu, New Caledonia and the east coast of Queensland and NSW. The botanical name means southern chestnut (Australia is the southern land), but there is only one species in the genus Castanospermum – it is that different from other legumes. The Black Bean has a pea-type large wooden pod to 20cm long with 1-5 large seeds. The seeds are toxic, but after pounding, leaching in water and then roasting they were an important food for the rainforest aboriginal people (Gunyjuu in Ngadjan; Mirrany in Jirrbal and Ma:Mu). The toxic alkaloids are being investigated for their anti-HIV and anti-cancer properties. Fresh broken twigs smell like cucumber, but the leaves are also toxic … having killed cattle. The flowers attract birds, bats and butterflies. There are stories that the nectar sometimes intoxicates lorikeets. The Black Bean produces a good fine-grained timber. Care needs to be taken though, as the sawdust can cause severe irritation of the nose and throat.