Plant Breynia oblongifolia (Coffee Bush)

Dusty Miller

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Common Names: Breynia; coffee bush

Scientific Name: Breynia oblongifolia

Order: Malpighiales

Family: Phyllanthaceae

Tribe: Phyllantheae

Subtribe: Flueggeinae

Distribution: Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales

Habitat: Cool eucalypt woodlands to tropical rainforest.

Field Notes: Shrub to 3 m. New groth rust coloured. Leaves are oval and alternate (not paired). Paler underside. Small green flower, red berries follow in late spring. Round red berry, like tiny tomato or persimmon ~8mm. Turns black with age.

Uses: Berries of related Breynia cernua are edible and a common bushfood for aborigines in NT and North Queensland. Chinese Breynais exist that can be toxic in large doses. Although some references have been found that say this plant is edible, it may not be good to consume more than a taste of these. Some conflicting information/misinformation exists online.

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Red berries will turn black as they age.

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Leaves are alternate. Flowers between leaves and stem

breynia1.jpg
Small shrub about 1-2 metres high.
 
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chutes

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Dusty M, I've been looking for some further references for Breynia oblongifolia to confirm the fruit is edible, but I've come up empty so far.

Most of the online places like the bushfood.net forum are advising people to steer clear of them. I noticed that in your database entry you specified that the Chinese Breynia is toxic, so is it a case of mistaken identity on these other websites?

I've seen these critters growing around the place in the northern NSW and I wouldn't mind giving them a taste test next time I'm up there.

Do you have any references which say they are safe to eat?
 

Hairyman

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Had a chew on some a few hours ago Chutes, not much flesh mostly seed.
Pretty tastless, no adverse effects but I didnt have much.

Hairy
 

Dusty Miller

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"Aboriginal land use at Tocal" by Jennifer Laffan and Cameron Archer lists it as edible.

Have done edibility test, no reaction, no after effects. B cernua is a common aboriginal food in tropics/arhnem land.
Probably best not to eat the seeds, or crush them with teeth. Seeds often contain compounds that produce cyanide, like apple seeds etc. If yoou do assess it as something you would eat, make sure the berries are ripe.

B oblongifolia is commonly grown in gardens, where ingestion by children is likely, could find no reports.

It is not a spurge (euphorbiacea) which some of the sites warn about. This family contains some nasties, hence people are more likely to be cautious.
Breynias belong to Phyllanthaceae The only place I could find reference to breyia oblongifolia toxicity was on the bushfood sites, thqt and some vet sites that say the leaves cause cyanide poisononing in grazing stock,

Breynia officinalus only causes liver toxicity in large doses, it is the roots and stems that are used in this chinese medicinal plant. One woman consumed 1500 g! Symptoms appear after 24 hours and subside in about four weeks. It is life threatening in very large doses. I couldn't imagine eating 1500 grams dry weight of anything.

Breynia stichatus is listed as non toxic.
Breynia nivosus is used as a chewing stick in africa to prevent cavities. An animal study found no signs of acute toxicity, no hepatotoxicity after PM on mice .

As with all potential bushfoods, caution is advised, do the edibility test, eat a little if you are confident, and don't eat it all the time. With regards to the eedibility test, the smell test (no almond smell) is the important one here for cyanide/cyanogenic glycosides, however a percentage of individuals cannot smell this. Moderation is advisable for any bush food.

I might pull it anyway...
 
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chutes

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Thanks for the detailed replies fellas.

I'll apply the edibility test on this particular fruit next time I run into some. Cheers.
 

petes2506

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I tasted the ripe (Black) berry of the Breynia Ironstone Range
. It has a very sweet taste like a date. The texture was about equal to a ripe tomato. No burning or other adverse effects but then again I didn't eat much.

Anxious to grow some from seed but would like to find toxiscity info.Breynia 08112015.jpgBreynia 10112015.jpg

The red berry had no taste at all and the same texture as a Lilly Pilly berry.
 
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