When Sarah and Richard de Crespigny purchased their rural property on the edge of Benalla decades ago they were intrigued by a couple of rows of interesting trees.
The trees in question produced large hedge apples, which they thought served no purpose other than to attract swarms of cockatoos.
However, in recent years they decided to do some research and found the Osage orange tree produced a rare essential oil, which was being produced nowhere else in Australia.
“Pomifera oil, one of the rarest and most coveted skin care oils, has been growing on our farm, Florence Court in north-east Victoria, for almost a century – and we’ve only recently discovered it,” Ms de Crespigny said.
“After frequently being bombed by cockatoos who have always tried, unsuccessfully, to fly off with the large green seed balls from our Osage orange trees, it took a tip off from a visitor to make us look further into the amazing tree and its fruit, the hedge apple.
“We had heard that the heartwood gives you an orange dye and we had also heard that native American tribes used the wood for bows and arrows.
“The Osage tribe used them and so the tree was called an Osage orange.
“We had also heard people would make hedges out of it as it has big thorns, but other than that we didn’t know.”
The visitor who noticed the trees subsequently sent Ms de Crespigny some more information.
“When I started googling Osage orange, up came the Pomifera oil.
“They had been producing it in America for years, but no-one in Australia was making it.
“More research led us to the incredible capabilities of the oil which it holds.
“The main thing about it is that it is the essential oil with the highest percentage of linoleic acid.
“And linoleic acid is incredibly hydrating.”
Since their discovery the de Crespigneys have been producing the oil and have recently started selling it online.
“We have about 40 trees, but only the females fruit – and we have less than half female.
“However, you need the males otherwise you don’t get the seed.
“We mulch up the fruit, we extract the seed then we use an oil extractor to separate the oil.
“And we would hope to produce about 500 bottles per season."
● If you would like more information, or to purchase a bottle, click here