The Macadamia nut is the only major commercial food crop that is native to Australia. The nuts of Macadamia integrifolia come from an evergreen tree native to the rain forests of southeastern Queensland, and the Macadamia tetraphylla come from the rain forests of New South Wales.
Macadamia nuts are the only commercially grown Australian bush food. While never a secret to the Aboriginal people, countries such as South Africa, America, Malawi, Kenya, Israel, Brazil and many other subtropical regions have now ventured into Macadamia nut farming.
For thousands of years the Aborigines gathered macadamias, which were a staple in their diet. But it was not until the mid-1800s when the recorded history of the macadamia began. Ferdinand von Mueller, Royal Botanist at Melbourne, and Walter Hill, Director of the Botany Garden at Brisbane, were botanizing in the forest along the Pine River in the Moreton Bay district of Queensland. They discovered a species of tree they did not recognize and named it Macadamia in honor of John Macadam, MD, Secretary of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria.
Macadamia trees were introduced to Hawaii in 1881 and in 1930 became the basis of a major industry there. At one time Hawaii produced about 90 percent of the world's supply. To this day, macadamias are one of the state's most important crops. The nuts are now also grown in California and many other tropical and subtropical regions.