The gum of many trees is edible but the best local gum in my books comes from the Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha).
Wattle gum is full of carbohydrates, especially sugars – for the chemistry minded it is a ‘complex polysaccharide’.
Wattle Gum is a chewy pick- me-up while in the bush. It is like hard toffee and dissolves slowly in the mouth. It’ can be dissolved in water for a sweet drink.
Traditionally, folk would wound a tree and harvest the gum that accumulated in and near the wound. They could then transport it easily back to camp or carry it as they traveled.
The other great ‘bush chewing gum’ comps from the Drooping Sheoak (Allocasuarina verticillata) – it’s so chewy that it’ll stick your teeth together so well while it dissolves that I recommend that folks with dentures don’t eat it!
There is a story about Sheoak gum…apparently, some Aboriginal folk would give it to their children when they traveled to keep their teeth together so they wouldn’t make as much noise as children often do. Whether that’s a true story, or fiction, if you’ve ever chewed Sheoak gum, you could see more than a grain of truth in it.
One final note…Eucalyptus gums taste horrible! There’s lots of oils and compounds in there that taste bad. You can dissolve some types of Eucalyptus gum in water as a mouth wash for infected gums and teeth, but don’t swallow it.