Saturday, 12 August 2006

Grasses used by Aboriginal People

Sue Hudson kindly provided me with a list of various species of grasses and the use/s that Aborigines had for each one. Here they are!

1. Slender rats tail (Sporobolus creber) Seeds - flour

2. Pappas grass (Enneapogon nigrans) Seeds – flour

3. Plume grass (Dichelachne micrantha) Seeds – flour

4. Hedgehog grass (Echinopogon ovatus) Seeds – flour

5. Wallaby grass (Danthonia sp) Seeds – flour

6. Swamp foxtail (Pennisetum alopecuoides) Stem/head – broom, weaving

7. Barbwire grass (Cymbopogon refractus) Seeds – flour, root/stem insect repellent

8. Kangaroo grass (Themeda australis) Seeds – flour

9. Weeping rice grass (Microlaenia stipoides) Seeds – flour

10. Wheat grass (Elamus scaber) Seeds – flour

11. Corkscrew grass (Stipa scabra) Broom/paintbrush

12. Slender bamboo grass (S. verticillata) Broom/mats/weaving

13. Blown grass (Agrotis avenacea) Seeds – flour

14. Lovegrass (Eragrostis leptostachya) Seeds – flour

15. Poa (Poa sp) Seeds – flour

16 .Wild sorghum (Sorghum leiocladum) Seeds – flour

17. Glycine (Glycine sp) Pea-vegetable

18 .Ferns - Root -vegetable but only when young and in drought

19. Rushes (Juncus/other sp) Seeds – flour, stems/leaves –weaving/mats/nets etc

20. Dock (Rumex sp) Medicinal

21. Tarvine (Berhavia sp) Root/Yam roasted, sap used to trap small birds, animals

22. Cenna Tea (Centauium) Steeped in water – tea, Roots/leaves – poultice

23. Mint bush (Prostnthera sp) Insect repellent/perfume

24. Muckram (Melichrus sp) Fruit

25. Cyprus (Callitris) Glue/sap, bark/woomera

26. Native cherry - Sap for snake bite

27. Daisy yam (Microseris lanceolata) - Tubers/yam, Leaves/salad

28. Banksia (Banksia sp) Cones used as fire stick, flowers infused as sweet drink, flowers licked as lolly

29 .T-tree (Leptospermum) Pegs for skins, clothes, leaves for insect repellent, bark for chewing for tooth ache

30. Mistletoe - Berrys eaten as fruit, leaves for fever

31. Blady grass (Imperata cylindrica) Leaves/stems - weaving

32. Grevillea (Grevillea) Nectar and gum

33. Honeysuckle - Nectar & Gum

34. Native fushsia ARATJA (Eremophila Latrobe) Fumigation or smoking ceremony, flower sucked as sweet

35. Pigweed WAKATI (Portulacca) Seeds winnowed, ground to paste for cakes

36. Wild tobacco UKIRI (Nicotiana excelsior) Mixed with ashes – smoked

37. Quondong (Santalum acuminatum) Stone used as a linament, wood used for carving totemic images, leaves used as sandpaper (fruit etc used as food)

38. Matspurge (Euphoria drummondii) Protect children from the sun/hat

39. Turpentine (Eremophila sp) Smoke used for coughs and general aches and pains

40. Parakeelya (Calandrinia balonensis) Baked in hot ashes, leaves eaten, water source/leaves sucked

41. Emu poison bush (Dubosia sp) Poisonous leaves crushed and put in waterholes to stupefy emus and fish

42. Hopbush (Dodonea sp) Placed in pit, smoke used for relief of pain

43. Bush tomato (Solanum cleistogamun) Fruit

44. Mulga (Acacia sp) Seeds most important for flour/damper, sap as sweet, wood for spears, woomeras, boomerangs and womens digging sticks

45. Native truffle (Choiromyces sp) Cooked in ashes

Thanks Sue, for passing on the information.

For those who do not know Sue is Aboriginal and one of Australia's leading archaeologists. If you would like further information you can contact Sue on mobile: 0412 649 580 email:


Anonymous said...

I really love the way that you put the scientific name with the common name. I could really use that for my project!!!

Phillip Diprose said...

Thanks "starzgal12". I have no idea who you are or what your project is but do appreciate your comment and wish you the best of luck with it all

Reevaw said...

hi phillip my name is reeva and i am interested in sourcing native grasses to weave with....i live in nsw near newcastle any help would be greatly appriciated thankyou for your time....reeva

Phillip Diprose said...

Thanks for your query, Reeva. Sorry I can't help out with specifics. It MIGHT be worth you contacting your local Catchment Management Authority ... they will have waterways enhancement projects they are funding and may be able to put you in touch with a local native plants guru. I do know we have a couple of plant species here on Ochre Arch that can be used for weaving but the quantities are small.