Common Name: Dog's Nuts
Grewia retusifolia is an erect or spreading shrub or a small tree, usually growing from 30 - 150cm tall in Western Australia but larger in the east of its range,
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and a medicine.
E. Asia - southeast China, Vietnam, Laos, Philippines, Indonesia (Java) to New Guinea and northern Australia
Usually grows in open eucalypt forest but sometimes found on the margins of vine thickets and monsoon forest; at elevations up to 550 metres[
Found in the wild in a variety of soils[
Plants can start flowering and fruiting when around 100cm tall[
Plants can spread at the roots.
Fruit - raw. A thin but sweet flesh[
]. The fruit is often lobed, usually 2-4-lobed, with scattered brown hairs on the outer surface. Seeds about 3 x 2.5 mm, enclosed in a thick hard endocarp[
The small drupe, which is rusty-brown when ripe and possesses a very sweet taste, though containing a large seed, is eaten by the natives throughout North Australia[
'I found a great quantity of ripe Grewia seeds, and, on eating many of them, it struck me that their slightly acidulous taste, if imparted to water, would make a very good drink. I therefore gathered as many as I could, and boiled them for about an hour; the beverage which they produced was at all events the best we had tasted on our expedition, and my companions were busy the whole afternoon in gathering and boiling the seeds.' (Leichhardt, Overland Expedition to Port Essington, p. 295.)[
]. (As Grewia polygama)
Grewia species are valued in many cultures for their medicinal virtues. The main medicinal action appears to come from the mucilage that is found in the leaves, stems and roots, which has been shown to have soothing and healing properties. Taken internally it is often used as a remedy for diarrhoea and dysentery, for example, whilst externally it is applied to wounds, cuts, ulcers, irritations etc. The plant can be taken as a simple infusion or decoction, or it can be applied topically as a poultice of the plant, or the mucilage can be extracted from the plant, if required, by maceration and then decoction.
The leaves are one of the best known bush medicines in Australia, having a wide reputation as a cure for dysentery and diarrhoea[
The roots are rich in mucilage, A decoction is applied topically to boils, swollen limbs, infections etc[
] (As Grewia polygama)
Seed - we have no specific information for this species but seed of this genus is generally best sown as soon as it is ripe. Stored seed has a hard seedcoat and may benefit from scarification before sowing in order to speed up and improve germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!), allowing the mix to cool somewhat and then leaving it in a warm place to soak for 12 - 24 hours. Sow the seeds in situ or in a nursery seedbed or trays - do not allow the compost to become dry. Germination and early growth are usually quite quick.
Cuttings - best taken with a heel.
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