Native to Australia, macadamia trees are only found naturally in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. The Hawaiian macadamia industry was grown from one cultivar from Australia that was repeatedly cloned. Recently, new research into macadamias has revealed the world’s dominant commercial cultivar, which is grown in Hawaii, originated from a single tree in southern Queensland from the 19th century. This means the commercial macadamia tree has an incredibly low genetic diversity, and researchers hope their findings will spur the discovery of wild trees and more “novel genes”. Despite being found in a narrow band of subtropical rainforest, Australia’s native macadamia had a rich diversity compared with the commercial crops.
The macadamia industry is known to have a strong export market globally. It exports up to 79% of its total production.
As of June 2020:
Macadamia is predominantly grown in northern New South Wales and Bundaberg. Nevertheless, these nuts are also produced in the Northern Rivers as well.
There’s a huge amount of climate change happening, there is clearing happening, and about 90% of the wild population is on private property. It’s really important to identify where there are unique genes in the wild and prioritise those populations for conservation. Macadamias are only a few generations from the wild. They have not gone through as many cycles of selection as, for example, apples.