Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Perfect Nut

In 1857, German-Australian botanist Ferdinand von Mueller gave the genus of this plant the scientific name Macadamia – named after von Mueller’s friend Dr John Macadam, a noted scientist and secretary to the Philosophical Institute of Australia.  Macadam is also associated with Australian Rules Football and the first-ever lecture at the Melbourne University Medical School (he went on to become Professor of Theoretical and Practical Chemistry at Melbourne University in 1865.)

Macadamia seeds were first imported into Hawaiʻi in 1882 by William Purvis; he planted them in Kapulena on the Hāmākua Coast. (Purvis is also notable for importing the mongoose – to rid his Hāmākua sugar plantation of rats.)  Later (1892,) Robert and Edward Jordan planted the trees at the former's home in Nuʻuanu on Wyllie Street in Honolulu.  This introduction became the source of the principal commercial varieties cultivated in Hawaiʻi.    Horticulturalist Luther Burbank is credited with calling macadamias the ‘perfect nut.’

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