"Slender palm lily (Cordyline stricta) is an Australian rainforest native that works well in the urban garden landscape. And we have heaps for you to choose from. We think it was the sweet seasonal starch that was the motivation behind the traditional Noongar harvest of Typha in the autumn season. The last part translates as ‘the Aborigines ate the interior (inner) part of the root.’ The specimen was obtained from near the base of Mt Eliza, Kings Park. Research anthropologists. Today Typha is regarded almost as a weed that congests our waterways and is usually controlled by chemical herbicides. Bulrushes grow in wet locations, including ponds, marshes, and lakes. The root is as thick as your finger and a foot long.’ (Moore 2, ‘…it is to be supposed therefore, that by giving a certain quantity of bread in proportion to the fish brought in, they would be stimulated to additional activity.’ (, ‘As Nyungar language and culture were based on, ‘Aboriginal people believed that the water level [of swamps and rivers] was controlled by the seasons, thus creating a harmony and balance between aquatic life forms and other animals, including humans who frequented the area.’ (Macintyre and Dobson 1999 in the, ‘It is through the activities of this Waugal that the springs which feed the Lake continue to flow.  Should he be killed, according to tradition, Loch McNess would dry out completely. AUSTRALIAN PLANT enthusiasts. Could these have been the product of indigenous firing and cultivation? If an infestation becomes established, eradication in one season is difficult and follow-up work over two or three seasons will be required. The fine mats were used inside the wigwam to cover the lower walls, or for sitting and eating upon. Bulrush, Any of the annual or perennial grasslike plants constituting the genus Scirpus, especially S. lacustris, in the sedge family, that bear solitary or much-clustered spikelets. Or could Moore have been making an assumption, coloured by his own Irish background, where cakes were always baked. Wilson in October 1829 when descending Mt Eliza: ‘…in descending the hill, found a fine stream of pure water, which we regretted had not been discovered earlier, as we should not have been under the necessity of using the water of the river, which, from being brackish, was not very palatable.’ (Wilson October 1829 in Shoobert 2005: 95). This root is in season in April and May, when the broad leaves will have been burned by the summer fires, by which the taste, according to native ideas, is improved.’ (Moore 1842: 81). The experimental research on which this paper is based was conducted by Ken Macintyre and Barb Dobson in March and April 2008 at Toodyay, 84 km northeast of Perth, Western Australia. Typha is commonly known as Bulrush in Australia and Cattails in the United States. It is tasteless to me, being fibrous and farinaceous.’ (Moore 29th March, 1834 in Cameron 2006: 317)Â. Digging up yanyett rhizomes was a labour-intensive task, often commencing after the first autumn rains.  If the rains were late the Typha remained dormant and the digging season was delayed due to the impenetrability of the dry hardened clay topsoil. Explorers’ accounts from other parts of Australia (such as those of Mitchell and Eyre) that were published in the popular colonial newspapers of the day also contributed to this collective pool of hearsay. As chewing was probably the most common method of extracting the starch from Typha rhizomes, a well- cooked rhizome would be softer on the palate. Destroying young plants, before they establish and produce seed, is the most effective method of control. Throughout our time working with Noongar people they have always emphasised that the Waugal originally came from the northern regions and that its tracks are evidenced by the chain of lakes running north to south along the coastal plain from Yanchep to Beeliar.  They believe that these lakes are hydrologically connected to one another and that they represent tangible evidence of the Waugal’s subterranean odyssey as it created the landscape. Care must be taken to avoid damage to the structure of the waterway. We wonder if Grey’s comment about there being two species of Typha is based on two different names he may have collected for this plant. In this video I'm talking about Australian Bulrush (Typha), the month of march is the starting time of the "fluff" season in my local area, S.W Sydney. Lieutenant George Grey (1841: 292) notes that Aborigines ate the roots of two species of Typha.2. First cut when the flowering period is well advanced (around January), with follow up cuts at 4 to 6 weekly intervals. P: +44 (0) 28 7938 6555. • Commercial honey bees (Apis mellifera) are not native to Australia. This species is not found in Western Australia but is equated to T. orientalis. Until we have our own local chemical analyses, we must rely on studies conducted in other parts of the world which may be indicative but hardly conclusive. Desert lime is one of the foods traditionally collected by Indigenous Australians. Magherafelt. Grey (1841:292-293) describes how Nyoongar women dug up roots using their wannas: ‘It is generally considered the province of women to dig roots, and for this purpose they carry a long pointed stick, which is held in the right hand, and driven firmly into the ground, where it is shaken, so as to loosen the earth, which is scooped up and thrown out with the fingers of the left hand, and in this manner they dig with great rapidity.’. Stout and creeping. For many years we have been puzzled by Moore’s reference to dulbo which he defines as: ‘dulbo – A fine farinaceous substance eaten by the natives, and this is the name sometimes given by them to our flour.’ (Moore 1842: 34). An iconic Australian native plant, kangaroo paws add texture and sculptural interest to a native Australian garden. Such occasions would have involved social, ceremonial and ritual exchange activities. The introduced cumbungi is found throughout the State in farm dams, creeks, ponds and slow moving rivers. In south-western Australia roots were also the most important food, especially Warran Yam (Dioscorea hastifolia). This plant is of great importance to the natives, as furnishing a great portion of the food of their women and children, for several months in the year…. The magnificent woolly tubular flowers come in an outstanding colour range of red, yellow, green, orange, pink and near-white. WHAT ARE NATIVE BEES? Further, it cooks the raw starch making it more readily digestible and diminishing any toxic and/or bitter compounds. We are not aware of any chemical or nutritional analyses of yanjet rhizomes having been carried out in Western Australia. ideally if such tests are to be carried out we would recommend that (i) the Typha patch be burned in accordance with traditional local land management practices and that (ii) the sample specimens are collected during autumn (late March/ April/ May) in accordance with the ethnohistorical record when the root is still in its dormancy and before the heavy winter rains cause flooding. It protects the Typha beds from an excessive build up of subsurface organic material known as ‘muck’ and its potential for igniting destructive deep muck fires, arising from spontaneous combustion or lightning strikes, which in severe instances could destroy the entire Typha bed. is perfect for: Residential gardens & landscapes Commercial landscaping projects Was the piece of bread that Moore tasted made from Typha rhizome flour or was it the flour itself that tasted like oatmeal? He further refers to the taste of Typha when made into a cake: ‘…when kneaded and made into a cake, tastes like flour not separated from the bran.’. Australian Native Shrubs. Australian natives are among the most stunningly beautiful and unique plants grown anywhere in the world, from the gorgeous kangaroo paw of Western Australia to the glorious flowering wattles of the eastern states. The plant is abundant in our lakes and rivers, but it is only in the autumn months, when the plant is in a state of rest, that it contains much starch in the roots.’ (Drummond 1842). However, we could find no nutritional analysis that took into account the seasonal timing of its indigenous consumption.  Gott (1999) cites the results of a study by Brand Miller et al (1993: 112-115) of ‘a raw peeled rhizome’ of Typha orientalis but the time of specimen collection is not specified. It showed almost 70% water, 14.1% carbohydrate and 12.2% fibre (see Appendix 1). The ash content breakdown of minerals (in mg per 100 g) showed sodium 70, potassium 66, magnesium 80, calcium 34, iron 3.6, zinc 0.5, and copper 0.2: ‘The carbohydrate content consists largely of starch, tasting rather like potato when cooked. It is tasteless to me, being fibrous and farinaceous.’ (Moore 29, ‘They peel the root, roast and pound it, and bake it. A Noongar Elder once commented to us that the feathery flowers of the seeding bulrushes were a Noongar indicator that it was time to burn them.  He was very concerned by the use of herbicides by the local Council on the Typha and other ripparian vegetation, believing that it would kill local fish and native bird populations.  He said that the Noongar way was to burn the Typha before all the seed left the flowers. Aussie Bee > Key Facts about Australian Native Bees • There are at least 1,700 species of "true blue" Australian native bees (see photos of some common examples below). The grass-like leaves are thick and spongy, and are borne on either side of a stout, cane-like stem growing to 2.5 m high. 4/07/2019 10:40 AM, Detailed management and control guidelines for cumbungi can be found in the Cumbungi Control Guide. This type of firing also provides an efficient means of fertilising the new season crop and promotes larger rhizome growth. We would suggest that by the time James Backhouse observed the lagoons ‘much-filled with cats-tail reed’ in 1837 the indigenous practice of burning and managing Typha beds in the Perth area had ceased owing to the colonial usurpation of their traditional hunting and gathering grounds which had resulted in a massive disruption to their traditional livelihood, forcing them to depend on white society for much of their subsistence. Roasting the rhizomes, pounding and then either drying or baking them into a dry mealy “bread” which Moore (1834) describes as tasting like ‘a cake of oatmeal’ may have been practised by smaller family groups and also as a convenient means of short term food storage. Last published on: In our paper on bardi grubs we mooted the possibility that indigenous people of southwestern Australia practised the earliest known form of insect husbandry. Many favourite native plants are ideal, they're naturally exposed to prolonged periods of rain followed by drought. Typha rhizomes were a favoured starch seasonal staple in many parts of Australia and the shoots were also eaten raw in parts of southeastern Australia. The natives dig the roots up, clean them, roast them, and then pound them into a mass, which, when kneaded and made into a cake, tastes like flour not separated from the bran. Moore’s journal entry on 29th March 1834 describes the Typha extract (unclear what he is referring to) as ‘tasteless to me, being fibrous and farinaceous.’ On the other hand, Grey’s journal entry (1841: 294) describes the ‘cake’ formed from the Typha paste after pounding the roots as ‘very nice.’. A compound word, signifying literally, pierce (the ground), take (it; whatever is dug up, in your hand), put (it on one side), this being an exact description of the native style of digging.’. Plant Native! We would recommend a similar analysis be carried out of the nutritional composition of local Typha rhizomes from southwestern Australia at the starch-rich season, around April. When visiting Perth in 1837 James Backhouse refers to this broad-leaved bulrush as Typha latifolia (Latin, latus, meaning broad + folia, leaves).  However, Typha latifolia is not found in Western Australia so this is probably Typha orientalis. ‘The starch content is constant throughout the year; however, the water-soluble saccharides vary considerably.’ (Kuzawska et al (2014:2). Grey (1840) describes Typha, or what the Aborigines call yunjeedie or yunjid as follows: ‘Yun-jee-die, or Yun-jid: a species of typha, the root of a sort of flag growing along the edges of fresh water pools and streams. From October to January new shoots emerge from the base. We think they did, especially in times of drought or seasonal food shortages. Other taxa of plants may be known as bulrush, including some sedges in … Native flowers attract wildlife, look beautiful, and stand up to a range of challenging climates. T. domingensis in South America is said to contain an `unidentified toxic principle which has purgative and emetic properties’ (Webb 1948, 163) but it is not mentioned as poisonous in Everist (1979).’ (Gott 1999). Drummond (1842) describes two methods of consuming yandyait but the second technique is vague and confusing and lacks any scientific detail, especially if one were to try to replicate his instructions. Within the first decade of colonisation of the Swan River colony indigenous Typha cultivation and its consumption declined in settled areas owing to the colonial usurpation of the traditional Noongar hunting and gathering grounds.  The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal in 1833 reports that the local Aboriginal population of Perth and its surrounds were beggars and paupers in their own land. Questions concerning its content can be sent using the We would suggest that because the Typha was burned annually, according to ethno-historical accounts, that possibly only a light ‘muck-burning’ of the soil took place. The Department of Environment, Waters and Rivers and WA  Florabase all endorse this view. This group is for photos, videos & artwork of AUSTRALIAN NATIVE BIRDS only!!! When he travelled to the north of Noongar country he may have come into contact with a different name for the plant; for example, among the Watchandi at the mouth of the Murchison river the indigenous name for Typha or bulrush is “ura” (see Oldfield 1865). Flower stems slightly shorter than the leaves, female part is dark brown, blotched with white on ageing up to 3 cm in diameter. Bulrush Horticulture Ltd. Newferry Road. The true Bulrush (Scirpus Lacustris) native, shallow water, marginal pond, plant. Eyre (1841) and his Aboriginal guide Wylie, while travelling through the Cape Arid region near Esperance towards Albany survived on the root of ‘the broad flag-reed’ (Typha) which they consumed on several occasions between 31st May and 19th June. The other meanings for yunje ‘a stream of running water’ and ‘a spring’ describe the freshwater habitats in which yunjeedie grows. Was it too common around the swamps, lakes and rivers of Perth to be considered worthy of his attention? Oldfield (1865) describes a more likely and immediate scenario (with reference to the Watchandi people living at the mouth of the Murchison River) for satiating hunger whereby the starchy Typha roots are first roasted and then pounded until it ‘assumes the form of a coherent cake’ or manageable mouthful and is then consumed without further cooking. We can only imagine that In the traditional context the Typha flour would have been cooked (for the second time) as a wet mealy paste. Different names for a particular plant, animal or bird were often assigned to different “species’ by early recorders, especially Grey (1840), Moore (1842) and Drummond (1842) as if assuming (wrongly!) The two species are … Food: Roots eaten by Chippewa. in 1834 George Fletcher Moore describes ‘a broad sort of flag’ that grows around the swamps of Perth and the Upper Swan.  He is referring to the bulrush or Typha that grew in abundance on the margins of freshwater lakes and swamps in southwestern Australia. Reasons for burning were multipurpose: it helped to remove dense dried swamp vegetation that was often inhabited by poisonous snakes such as the tiger snake (norn); it provided supplementary protein in the form of animal and reptile by-catch; it was carried out during the non-nesting season for birds; it enabled access to wetland hunting grounds once water levels were replenished; it helped to preserve sufficient open water for  waterbirds; it removed dead and decaying vegetative litter and returned nutrients to the soil. For the introduced cumbungi, the female (or lower and cylindrical) part of the flower head is blackish-brown in colour, 100-200 mm long and 15-30 mm in diameter. You will also find then along river banks and around permanent pools of water. As we have pointed out elsewhere, the Noongar like other Aboriginal Australian groups had evolved their own logical, independent, highly practical and utilitarian-based plant classificatory system thousands of years before Europeans arrived on their shores. Reeds (Phragmites australis) and Bulrushes (Typha domingensis) are common components of wetlands in South Australia. The best season for eating this root is in the months of April and May, when they are found in places where water stood in the winter, but which are now dry. It has narrow, strappy leaves that crowd at the top of the stem, and understated pale-purple flower bracts. It may also explain the enigmatic sweetness of the Typha cakes consumed by Major Sir Thomas Mitchell in April 1836 when exploring the Lachlan River of New South Wales. They are vigorous and grow to 3m in height. Cumbungi is continuing to spread in Tasmania as fertiliser and animal manures are washed into waterways, creating the nutrient-rich waters cumbungi prefers. Leaves are a pale greyish green, long and strap shaped 8 to 20 mm wide. Reading the journals of the early explorers such as Mitchell (1839), Eyre (1840-1841) and Grey (1841), it is easy to get the impression that Typha root could be consumed over a prolonged period up until the wet season.  However, they all refer to the proper Typha season as being when the plant is in senescence and we would suggest at this time also high in sugar content. Larger infestations can be removed by mechanical excavation. Don't rely on just one treatment: follow-up is essential. Oral tradition necessitated an economy of words. Get in early! This fits well into their summer/ autumn food sweetness cycle which included a wide range of flower nectars, gums and root bark which were highly valued energy foods.  When we talk about the sweetness of Typha starch, we imagine that it would be similar to other plant sugars and of a mild intensity compared to that of refined cane sugar. Nyanyi-Yandjip (literally ‘pubic hairs’) was the tribal name for this area, an allusion both to the reeds surrounding the Lake and to the Waugal’s hairy mane (, A word of caution though, for anyone tempted to experiment, the preliminary results from a study conducted in India on, showed that its leaf may contain potentially harmful phyto chemicals like alkaloids, tannins, saponins and steroids,  in its phytochemical analysis’ (International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences Review and Research 2016:32).  Until chemical testing is conducted on our own botanical specimens from southwestern Australia at the season when they were traditionally consumed by Noongar people, we have no way of knowing the phyto-chemical and nutritional composition of, 1. Small plants can be removed by hand-pulling or with a spade. At this point we want to introduce the notion of ‘muck burning.’ Muck here refers to ‘a soil rich in carbon-based compounds from dead plants and organisms that stays burning for a long period of time.’ It involves subsoil burning and, depending on the accumulated biomass of organic plant matter, can become a very dangerous and uncontrollable type of fire, especially in swamplands and Typha colonies where it may smoulder for months. Cumbungi are semi-aquatic plants growing in lakes, dams, irrigation channels, marshes and rivers where the flow is slow and dissolved nutrient levels are high. Make sure all pieces of the roots and rhizomes are removed, otherwise the plant can quickly regrow. The Waugal was not only a creator but also a destroyer to those who disobeyed the ancient laws.  Even to this day the Waugal is feared and revered by Noongar people when they frequent places believed to be associated with the Waugal. Drummond writes: ‘A species of Typha allied to Angustifolia of Linnaeus but larger in all its parts, and the spike of the flowers of a lighter brown colour, called by the Natives Yandyait; the roots abound with starch, and are compared by them in their nourishing properties to bread.’ (Drummond 1837: 257 Swan River Guardian). The natives dig up these roots, clean and roast them, and then extract the farinaceous matter. Pollen, young shoots, and seeds are also edible. With the exception of Moore’s chance encounter one evening (1834) when visiting an Aboriginal camp within the vicinity of his property at Millendon in the Upper Swan, we would suggest that many of the early ethnohistorical accounts of food preparation relied on indigenous male informant descriptions or the standardised colonial hearsay derived from  accounts reported in the local newspapers, such as the Swan River Guardian, Perth Gazette and Inquirer. ‘They peel the root, roast and pound it, and bake it. It is a fibrous root, one or two feet in length containing layers of a beautiful meal.’. O’Connor et al. The fluffy down is reputed to be a natural tinder.  This may also have had symbolic significance to the timing of the event.  Phenological indicators enabled a high degree of precision as to the timing of ripeness or readiness of foods for harvest or in this case, burning the Typha. Â, The first of these meanings for yunje alludes to a ceremonial decoration made from tufts of emu feathers that were traditionally worn on the upper arm and head with the fluffy down attached to a stick for decoration. To restore the dam to its original capacity: //anthropologyfromtheshed.com/project/the-bardi-grub-in-nyungar-culture/ now Belmont infestations, a. Of indigenous culture the starch and the spread of dense infestations from rhizomes ( underground stems ) find... 0 ) 28 7938 6555 Mountains regions 318 ) bulrushes grow in wet locations, including,! 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