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Home > Documents > Archive Herbs Sedges and Rushes · 2013. 12. 6. · 158 159 Herbs, Sedges & Rushes dhamu Pigweed...

Archive Herbs Sedges and Rushes · 2013. 12. 6. · 158 159 Herbs, Sedges & Rushes dhamu Pigweed...

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Herbs, Sedges and Rushes
Herbs, Sedges and RushesScientific name Erodium crinitum
Plant location The maayal (Crowfoot) grows in woodland, grassland and saltbush communities throughout the Border Rivers and Gwydir catchments.
Plant description maayal is an annual or biennial herbaceous plant which grows to 90 cm high. It has deeply divided leaves and deep blue flowers. The stems have stiff white hairs growing along them. The fruit grows to 6cm long.
Traditional use The maayal blooms particularly well after good rains. Aboriginal people have used this plant as a food source. The leaves and seeds can be eaten. The roots can be dug up and roasted, then eaten. It is said to be similar to eating lettuce or celery.
Herb habit Flowers and leaves Flowers
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Language name gilaan.garra (yuwaalayaay)
Scientific name Swainsona species
Plant location gilaan.garra (the Darling pea) grows in woodland, grassland and open forest communities throughout the Border Rivers and Gwydir catchments.
Plant description There are many species of the genus Swainsona found in the Border Rivers and Gwydir catchments. Swainsona galegifolia, one of the Darling peas, is a perennial herb which grows to around 1m high. The stems can be trailing or erect. The flowers are usually pink and all shades of purple, sometimes they can be red in colour. The seed pods grow to 4cm long.
Traditional use Pea plants are legumes which can fix nitrogen in the soil. These plants are quite often poisonous and should not be eaten. gilaan.garra (the Darling pea) can be used to obtain dye, for colouring implements such as baskets. gilaan.garra is also a source of fibre for making rope and twine. The dried stems can be used as fire drills and can also be used as tips for light spears made from reeds (Howell 1983).
Flower Leaves Herb habit
Scientific name Nicotiana sauveolens
Plant location biyaga (Wild tobacco) grows in woodland and open areas throughout the Border Rivers and Gwydir catchments. It is often widespread on creek beds and rocky slopes.
Plant description This herb grows to 1.5 metres high and can be hairy. The leaves are green and grow to 20cm long. The flowers are white.
Traditional use biyaga plants (those in the genus Nicotiana) were chewed or smoked as a potent narcotic drug. In some cases, the dried girran.girraa (leaves) of the biyaga plant were mixed with the ashes of the wattle tree nganda (bark), and chewed. In other cases, biyaga girran.girraa were mixed with ashes and smoked. Don’t try this at home!
Flower Leaves
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H er
Scientific name Portulaca oleracea
Plant location dhamu (Pigweed) is widespread throughout the Border Rivers and Gwydir catchments. It grows as a weed in disturbed areas and is common on cultivated land.
Plant description dhamu is a succulent, low growing herb with blunt tipped triangular leaves and small yellow flowers. The stems are pink or red. It grows in clumps reaching a size up to 1 metre. dhamu sprouts on bare soil after rain, often forming thick mats. One plant can produce as much as 10,000 seeds (Low 1991).
Traditional use The warran (roots) of the dhamu are eaten raw or baked in ashes, the tops can be eaten raw. The seeds can also be eaten. These small jet black seeds are gathered from the mature plant by shaking them into a coolamon. These seeds are then ground into a flour-like paste that can be baked into small cakes which taste like linseed (Howell 1983, Purcell 2002). These seeds are a good source of protein, fat, water, dietary fibre and trace elements (Low 1991, Purcell 2002). They can also be stored for long periods of time, making them a staple and reliable source of food especially in times of drought. The fruit, leaves and stems can be eaten fresh, while the stems can be sucked for water (Hudson, in press).
Flower Leaves and Flowers
Scientific name Sonchus oleraceus
Plant location balamba is an introduced species from Europe, and is now found across vast areas of Australia. It is widespread throughout the Border Rivers and Gwydir catchments. It usually grows in disturbed areas, pastures and cropland.
Plant description This plant is well known and can be recognised by its yellow flower (which looks like a dandelion) and milky sap which oozes from the hollow stems when they are broken. It is an annual herb which grows up to 110cm high. It has a taproot and fibrous roots. The leaves are thin, soft and dull green. They are deeply lobed and have tiny spines along their edges.
Traditional use balamba girran.girraa (leaves), although bitter, can be eaten when young, but are no good when old. balamba has also been called prickly lettuce (a name usually used for Lactuca serriola) and it can be eaten cooked or raw as a salad. Eaten as a vegetable, the girran.girraa were removed from the stems. The stem was then scraped to remove the skin. Salt was sprinkled on the stems and eaten raw (Holten et al. 1989). It has been reported that the warran (roots) are sometimes eaten also. This plant contains high levels of Vitamin C (Cribb & Cribb 1975). The name balamba is probably based on the word balaa (white) because of the white fluid it exudes. This plant can be eaten in winter when other food is scarce, making it a useful food. In some parts of Australia, Aboriginal people eat balamba to ease pain and help them to sleep. balamba, particularly the milky latex, also has other herbal medicine uses such as being used to dress wounds, treat warts and boils, stimulate breast milk flow and as a tonic (Cribb & Cribb 1981). Flower Leaf Plant habit
162 163
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Language name buuybuuy (gamilaraay) ngawingawi (yuwaalaraay, yuwaalayaay)
Scientific name Mentha diemenica and M. satureioides
Plant location buuybuuy is widespread in a variety of habitats throughout the Border Rivers and Gwydir catchments.
Plant description buuybuuy is a herb which forms a mat as it grows outwards from a central spot. It has white or purple flowers and leaves which smell like pennyroyal. buuybuuy grows to a height of 15cm and has hairy stems.
Traditional use buuybuuy is an effective insect repellent and bunches of this herb can be placed around floors and beds to keep insects, bugs and fleas away. The girran.girraa (leaves) could be dried and boiled to make an infusion like tea, this was said to help women to develop regular menstrual periods (Purcell 2002, Cribb & Cribb 1981). Soaked in water, it was drunk as a blood purifier, and it was also heaped into a pillow for anyone suffering from sleeplessness. The name is possibly derived from the yuwaalaraay and yuwaalayaay word ngawi which means smell. The aroma of pennyroyal can be smelt when the leaves are crushed in the hand or the plants walked upon.
Herb habit Flowers Flowers and leaves
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Language name galan.galaan (yuwaalaraay, yuwaalayaay)
Scientific name Tetragonia tetragonoides
Plant location galan.galaan is found in the western and central areas of the Border Rivers and Gwydir catchments. It usually grows on sandy or loam soils.
Plant description galan.galaan is a spreading, leafy herb. It has fleshy green leaves which measure 10cm long by 5cm wide. Sometimes the stems are red in colour and small yellow flowers can be found growing at the base of the leaf stem. The stems are crispy and snap off well grown plants.
Traditional use galan.galaan can be eaten like spinach - the young stems can be snapped off the plant and eaten raw, served in salads, or cooked. galan.galaan is tasty and healthy. It is served in bush tucker restaurants in Australia and grown in vegetable gardens around the world. This plant is also native to Japan, and is used to treat stomach cancer in Japan and China (Cribb & Cribb 1981). It was said to be one of Captain Cook’s favourite native vegetables when he visited New Zealand and Australia. The name may relate to the watery blisters on the plant.
Leaf Fruit Flower buds
Language name milaan (gamilaraay) warray (gamilaraay) nhaal (gamilaraay) gudugaa (yuwaalaraay, yuwaalayaay)
Scientific name Microseris lanceolata
Plant location milaan (Yam Daisy) is widespread throughout the Border Rivers and Gwydir catchments. It grows throughout most of New South Wales, usually found in grassy woodlands and native grasslands. However it is becoming quite rare due to grazing pressure.
Plant description milaan is a perennial herb which grows to 40cm high. It has fleshy, tuberous roots. It has a yellow flower which often ‘nods’ at the end of a long stem. The upright, dark olive-green leaves grow in a tuft coming out of the base of the plant.
Traditional use milaan, warray, nhaal and gudugaa are all general terms for yam. This plant produces an underground tuber, which was a tasty staple food for some traditional Aboriginal communities. The milaan yam is best eaten roasted. Traditionally this was done by baking yams in baskets or in holes in the ground (Low 1991). The taste of the yam has been described as sweet with a coconut-like flavour, or similar to a radish (Cribb & Cribb 1975). milaan yams can also be eaten raw, as can the stems (Howell 1982). These yams were available year round, which made them a constant source of food for Aboriginal people, but some people believed that the roots of milaan should not be collected before the plants flowered. This was probably because during the drier winter period before springtime flowering, the roots would not be fully developed. Some of the plants were always left so that there would still be yams to eat next time they were needed (Australian National Botanic Gardens 2010g). In this way, Aboriginal people had a very good understanding of how to live sustainably and take care of the land and its resources.
Flower Leaves and stems Herb habit
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H er
Scientific name Thysanotus tuberosus
Plant location milaan (Common fringed lily) is widespread throughout the Border Rivers and Gwydir catchments. It is usually found in forest, woodland and heath, and grows on a variety of soils.
Plant description milaan has a beautiful purple flower with three large fringed petals and three small unfringed sepals (sepals look similar to flower petals). This plant grows to 80cm high and has clustered roots with tubers (approximately 3cm long) growing from them. The leaves are long and thin, measuring up to 60cm long.
Traditional use milaan, warray, nhaal and gudugaa are all general terms for yam. milaan were dug with a dhiinbaay (yuwaalaraay, yuwaalayaay), ganay (yuwaalaraay, yuwaalayaay) or naya (nganyaywana), which means yam stick in English. This is the women’s digging stick. It is pointed at one end and used for digging up sand goannas, other game and plants. The Common fringed lily, or milaan, has roots that swell into small sugary tubers which can be dug up with digging sticks. The roots and base of the stem can both be eaten. A hard shell surrounds the roots, which splits open when the tuber is cooked in hot ashes (Purcell 2002). If eaten raw, the yam is said to be crisp and juicy (Low 1991).
Herb habit Flower Stems, leaves and flowers
170 171
H er
Scientific name Crinum flaccidum
Plant location dhaygalbaarrayn (Darling lily) grows in open woodlands and grasslands mainly along rivers and sandy floodways throughout the central and western Border Rivers and Gwydir catchments.
Plant description This herb grows in clumps and reaches a height of 75cm. dhaygalbaarrayn has long, strap-like leaves and white, trumpet-like flowers. The flowers may have a strong fragrance.
Traditional use dhaygalbaarrayn has a large, underground bulb. These bulbs were harvested from the plant by Aboriginal women and pounded to make a paste with water. The bulb contains arrowroot and can also be used as a substitute for flour (Howell 1983, Cribb & Cribb 1975). The name is said to come from seeds which look like a ‘split head’ which is based on dhaygal (head) and baarray-rri (split).
Flower Growth habit Flowers
Language name milaan (gamilaraay) warray (gamilaraay) nhaal (gamilaraay) gudugaa (yuwaalaraay, yuwaalayaay)
Scientific name Bulbine bulbosa
Plant location milaan (Native Leek) is widespread throughout the Border Rivers and Gwydir catchments. It is usually found in damp areas in forest, woodland and grassland.
Plant description milaan is a herb growing to 75cm high. A member of the group broadly known as lilies, milaan has yellow flowers, where the midrib of each petal is greenish on the lower side. It has thick roots, often with a bulb which grows to 25mm in diameter.
Traditional use milaan, warray, nhaal and gudugaa are all general terms for yam. Native leek, or milaan, is typical of many ‘lillies’ found across the Border Rivers and Gwydir catchments. It has a large, bland, starchy bulb which women dug up with a dhiinbaay (yuwaalaraay, yuwaalayaay), ganay (yuwaalaraay, yuwaalayaay) or naya (nganyaywana), which means yam stick in English. The bulb was then roasted on the camp fire and eaten. milaan and other plants with tubers or bulbs were important sources of food to Aboriginal people who lived a traditional lifestyle, as these plants were generally available year round and provided a constant source of carbohydrates. milaan was said to be so plentiful in some areas that when it flowered, the ground was like a yellow carpet (Cribb & Cribb 1975).
Herb habit
Scientific name Cyperus species
Plant location warringaay (Nut Grass, Sedge, Bush Onion) comprises a number of species which are found in most habitats throughout the Border Rivers and Gwydir catchments. These plants are often found growing in water.
Plant description The name warringaay includes any of various sedges of the genus Cyperus bearing small nut-like tubers. These plants usually grow to about knee height (50cm) and are found in the understorey. The grass-like leaves sprout from the base of the plant in groups of three. The seed heads look like tufts and are sometimes coloured reddish- brown while the flower stems are triangular in cross section.
Traditional use warringaay is the bush onion which has tubers the size of shallots on the end of shallow roots. Eaten raw or cooked, the tubers may be stored underground. They can be dug by hand or with a digging stick and they have a tough husk that must be removed before eating. Animals, such as water birds, also eat the tubers of warringaay which makes it an important source of food and habitat for wildlife. The leaves can be woven to make string, mats, baskets or fish nets (Low 1991). warringaay has been used by Aboriginal people as medicine. A decoction made from the tubers can be used to treat gonorrhoea. In fact, warringaay, or its close relatives, is used all around the world to make traditional medicine to treat ailments such as digestive disorders, reproductive disorders, fevers, wounds, bruises and more (Cribb & Cribb 1981).
Seeds Stems and Tubers Flowers
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H er
Scientific name Lomandra longifolia and other Lomandra species
Plant location Several species of Lomandra grow throughout the Border Rivers and Gwydir catchments. These are a common species that grow in a variety of ecosystems.
Plant description The Spiny Headed Mat Rush is a perennial herb growing to a height of 1 metre. It has long (up to 1 metre), strap-like leaves with spiny tips. It has a spiky flower and seed spikes. The flowers produce a strong fragrance and are small, yellow and held in branching clusters. It tends to grow in thick clumps, often along streams.
Traditional use Spiny Headed Mat Rush is a very useful plant. It can be used to make baskets, dilly bags, nets, fish and eel traps, mats, food containers and other implements. The long girran.girraa (leaves) are very tough and are split into suitable lengths, tied into bundles and soaked in water or drawn through hot ashes to allow the fibres to become suitable for weaving. The girran.girraa were sometimes used as bandages and the warran (root) of some Lomandra species provided medicine for the treatment of bites and stings. Leaf fibres were worked to make rope and string for armbands and necklaces. The sweetly scented flowers are edible, being tasty and starchy. Fruit are also edible but they are tough and need to be ground into meal first. The base of the garril (leaf) is a little bit fleshy, and can be eaten. It is said to be refreshing, tasting like fresh green peas. Many small animals, such as snakes, birds and native mice, use this plant, so it can be a good place to hunt (Cribb & Cribb 1982, Low 1991, Purcell 2002, Williams and Sides 2008).
Flower Leaves Herb habit Leaf tip
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H er
Scientific name Dianella species
Plant location Several species of Dianella grow throughout the Border Rivers and Gwydir catchments. These species are common and widespread in ecosystems where there has not been too much disturbance.
Plant description The several species of Flax lilies found in the area vary between species, but they can usually be recognised by their long (up to 1 metre), tough, grass-like leaves and their blue or purple fruit (which is up 1.5cm in diameter). Small blue to purple flowers have 6 petals and a yellow or black centre. These plants grow in clumps in the understorey.
Traditional use The beautiful purple fruits were used as a dye by Aboriginal people. These fruit and warran (roots) could sometimes be eaten also. The tough girran.girraa (leaves) can be drunk as a tea and were also great to weave baskets, dilly bags and other implements from (Cribb & Cribb 1982, Low 1991, Williams and Sides 2008).
Flower Leaf Herb habit
Scientific name Calandrinia eremaea
Plant location Parakeelya grows in a variety of habitats and is widespread throughout the Border Rivers and Gwydir catchments.
Plant description Parakeelya is a herb which grows along the ground, with the end of the stems growing upwards. The flowers are usually purple, but sometimes white. The leaves are succulent, fleshy and flattened. The seed pod grows to 5mm and is shaped a little like a spiral.
Traditional use The plant is baked in hot sand and ashes, and the leaves are eaten. The succulent green girran.girraa (leaves) are sucked for water (Hudson, in press). The seeds can be eaten also, they are ground up into a paste and eaten raw or cooked. They are highly nutritious, containing high levels of protein and fat (Low 1991).
Flower Herb habit Whole dried plant