Australias fragrant Native Orange

Stunning flowers and gorgeous fruit too. It has many seeds like a passionfruit and ripens in summer. It is very high in vitamin C.

It is related to the commercial caper (Capparis spinosa), the young flower buds can also be pickled like capers and the edible fruit eaten without preparation. 
When the fruit ripens, the skin goes a dull purple to orange colour. The flesh becomes yellow to orange and soft, with a fragrant smell.
Native Wild Orange | Warndu | Photo by Patricia Gardener
Wild Orange occurs naturally in the drier parts of inland Australia in open savannah forest and grassland, generally on heavier textured soils. Also growing in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia, where it is used by the Adnyamathanha people, a cultural tourism enterprise is named after its local name, Iga Warta.
Native Wild Orange | Warndu | Photo by Patricia Gardener

  Common Name: Native Orange, Wild Orange, Native Pomegranate, Bumble Tree

  Scientific or Latin Name: Capparis mitchellii

  Comparison: Passionfruit

  Seasonality: Rare

  Region: Arid

◎  Taste Profile: It is quite tasty, although a bit astringent. Some describe the flavour as like passion fruit with a kerosene after-taste. The seeds are peppery and should be removed from the flesh and the skin is bitter and inedible.

◎  Types: The Wild Orange is not related to oranges, but to capers. There are about 250 species in the genus with approximately 16 native to Australia.


  • Wild Orange is highly valued as a bush-tucker food.
  • It contains high levels of nutritional value, especially Vitamin C, thiamine, antioxidants, and some minerals.
  • It has been identified by CSIRO as having significant economic potential – unique flavour and fragrance sought after by perfumery, skincare and confectionary industries.
  • Wild Orange is antimicrobial.

Traditional Aboriginal Food and Uses

The fruits of many of the species were important to Aborigines as a food. Aboriginal people ate the raw fruit which is a good source of vitamin C and thiamine.

Medicinally it was valued by indigenous communities in central Australia, and also features culturally as part of indigenous Dreaming heritage.

Western & Modern

Native Wild Orange has a high level of Vitamin C and is considered as valuable in the confectionery, flavouring and preservative industries. The fruit can be eaten raw or can be stewed and can be used in desserts, cordials or savoury dishes like curries, casseroles, rice and couscous.

The best time for fruit tends to be mid to late summer and it is suggested that timing is critical for harvesting and consumption to get the flavour just right. It makes a delicious drink. The juice and pulp are consumed but not seeds or rind which are considered peppery or astringent.


Due to the high levels of Vitamin C in Native Wild Orange, it is starting to feature more heavily in skincare products. Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant which hydrates the skin and fights the signs of visible ageing. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can aid in wound healing and blemish correction.


    Note: The term 'Bush Tucker' and 'Bush Food' are not Warndu's preferred terms for Australian Native Ingredients or Australian Botanicals.

    Images: Photo by Patricia Gardener, featured by Toowoomba Plants.