The United States is the largest consumer of macadamia nuts. The country's consumption ranges from 8,800 to 9,800 metric tons per year. Despite being a major producer, the United States is the largest importer. Last summer, a surprising discovery shook the relatively stagnant field of commercial research on macadamia nuts.
The vast majority of the world's commercial macadamia crops originated from a single 19th-century tree in the small town of Gympie in Queensland (Australia), according to a new study published in Frontiers in Plant Science. He's basically the Genghis Khan of macadamia nut trees, in terms of offspring. Macadamias are native to Australia, but today they are cultivated in many areas of the world. The largest producers of macadamia nuts are Australia and South Africa (55% of total world production), followed by Kenya, China, the United States (Hawaii), Guatemala, Malawi, Vietnam, Colombia, New Zealand and Swaziland.
Of the four wild species of macadamia currently living in Queensland, three are threatened and one is endangered, the study notes. The small town of Gympie, in Queensland, has been identified as the source of 70% of the world's macadamia nuts. In the 1860s, King Jacky, the elder Aboriginal member of the Logan River clan and the world's first “macadamia nut businessman”, was the first to market the nut to colonists. Although there are ten varieties of macadamia, only two produce expensive nuts, and it takes seven to 10 years for trees to start producing nuts.
Gympie, the small Scottish capital of Queensland, is best known for being the base of 70% of the world's macadamia nuts. In other words, 70 percent of the world's macadamia varieties can be obtained from a single tree or a couple of trees in Gympie, according to a statement by Craig Hardner, a horticulturist at the University of Queensland and one of the researchers who led the study. This notable lack of genetic diversity means that macadamia crops are at greater risk of succumbing to diseases or changes in climate than trees with a more diverse population, according to a report published in The Guardian. By comparison, wild Australian macadamias have a rich diversity despite their narrow subtropical forest habitat, according to the study.
There are many types of macadamia and there are only two species in Australia, Macadamia integrifolia and M. The largest producers of macadamia nuts are Australia and South Africa (55% of total world production), followed by Kenya, China, the United States (Hawaii), Guatemala, Malawi, Vietnam, Colombia, New Zealand and Swaziland. The researchers collected hundreds of DNA samples from macadamia trees in the native habitat of trees in Queensland and compared them with samples from trees grown commercially in Hawaii, which produces 70 percent of the world's macadamia varieties. Macadamia nuts are rich in selenium, a valuable antioxidant that boosts the quality of blood flow, resistance to diseases and defends against inflammation.
Large-scale commercial macadamias products began in the 1880s in Hawaii, when Australian seeds were planted. Renowned for their sweet and rich flavor, macadamia nuts grew rapidly and became popular among sugar barons who founded the Hawaiian Islands to start the sugar industry.