The Plants of Milarri Garden

View of the Milarri Garden in Melbourne Museum

Aboriginal people used plants extensively for food, technology and medicine. Many plants continue to be used for medicine, fibrecraft and making weapons and tools. Milarri Garden is planted with native flora significant to the Aboriginal people of south-eastern Australia. The plants in Milarri are predominantly indigenous Victorian plants.

Within Milarri is an outdoor performance space and a collaborative sculpture titled Biamie, the Rainbow Serpent by Clive Atkinson, a Yorta Yorta artist, and Domonic Benhura, a Shona artist from Zimbabwe.

This guide was prepared by Serene O'Halloran, Andrew Kuhlmann, Veronica Barnett and Rowena Flynn.

The Milarri Garden

WARNING: People without proper knowledge of these food plants should never attempt to eat them. It could be harmful.

Trees

Woolly Tea-tree

Woolip (Woi wurrung), Wuliip (Taungurung)

Botanical name: Leptospermum lanigerum
Family: Myrtaceae

Uses
The wood is an important resource, providing single and double-barbed spears.

Distribution
Woolly Tea-tree grows in riparian woodland, coastal tea tree heath, and valley sclerophyll forest. Found in Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia.

Cultivation
This small dense tree makes a beautiful specimen for a small garden and thrives with moist soil. It grows to 2–6 m tall by 1–3 m wide and can be pruned to maintain compact shape.

She-oak tree, Allocasuarina verticillata, growing in Milarri Garden.
She-oak tree, Allocasuarina verticillata, growing in Milarri Garden.

Drooping She-oak

Gneering (Gunditjmara), Barn (Gunaikurnai)

Botanical name: Allocasuarina verticillata
Family: Casuarinaceae

Uses
The timber is mainly used to manufacture boomerangs and other implements. The young shoots and cones can be eaten.

Distribution
Drooping She-oak is widespread in primary dune scrub, rocky open scrub, red gum and ironbark country. It grows in Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia.

Cultivation
This small erect tree likes well-drained soils and can grow in full sun to partial shade. Once established it can tolerate dry periods and it has dense yellow flowers from March to December. It grows around 4–11 m tall and 3–6 m wide.

The distinctive needle-like foliage of the drooping she-oak.
The distinctive needle-like foliage of the drooping she-oak.

Messmate

Wangnarra (Woi wurrung), Katakatak (Gunaikurnai), Daagonj (Taungurung)

Botanical name: Eucalyptus obliqua
Family: Myrtaceae

Uses
In common with other species of stringybark, this tree's outer brittle bark is powdered to serve as tinder to catch sparks when making fire. The inner bark can be used to make a type of coarse string for bags and fishing nets.

Distribution
Messmate is widespread in wet, damp, valley and dry sclerophyll forests, and grassy open woodland. It is found in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia.

Messmate (Eucalyptus obliqua) growing in Milarri Garden.

Cultivation
Messmates can grow to 35 m and are tall, upright trees with dense canopies. Eucalyptus obliqua prefers moist, well-drained soils but will tolerate dry periods once established.

Austral Mulberry

Djiel-warg (Woi wurrung)

Botanical name: Hedycarya angustifolia
Family: Monimiaceae

Austral Mulberry

Uses
A dry piece of stem about 60 cm long and 1 cm in diameter was rapidly twirled in a hole made in a flat piece of wood, often the dry flower-stalk of the Southern Grasstree, until friction caused the pith to smoulder. This was then tipped onto some dry stringybark and gently blown to produce a flame. The whole operation took about two minutes. So highly prized were the sticks, called Djelwuck, that they were traded from the mountains right up to the northern tribes on the Murray River. Different materials were used in other parts of Australia to make fire.

Distribution
Austral Mulberry is found in cool temperate rainforest and damp sclerophyll forest. It grows in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.

Cultivation
This shrub or small tree grows 3 –7 m tall and 4 m wide and requires cool, rich soil. It grows best where there is plenty of water.

Lilly Pilly

Wanduin (Gunaikurnai name for the fruit)

Botanical name: Acmena smithii
Family: Myrtaceae

The Lilly Pilly tree

Uses
The pale mauve or white berry-like fruit is pleasantly tart and juicy and can be eaten raw as a refreshing snack food. Lilly Pilly fruits were used by early settlers to make jam.

Distribution
A. smithii is widespread across east coast rainforests. It grows in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and on King Island.

Cultivation
This tree grows between 3–30 m. In cultivation it is a medium tree with a dense canopy that can be pruned to make a hedge. It thrives in cool, moist soils but is adaptable to a range of soil types and conditions. It is resistant to moderate frosts and is one of the lilly pillys least susceptible to the psyllid pests that create a pimpling effect on the leaves.

Blackwood

Moeang (Woi wurrung), Yanun or Yoman (Gunaikurnai), Moyan (Taungurung)

Botanical name: Acacia melanoxylon
Family: Fabaceae

The flower of the Blackwood tree
The flower of the Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) tree

Uses
The fibre of this tree can be used to make fishing lines while its timber provides weapons such as woomera, shields and throwing-sticks. It also has medicinal uses: an infusion of its bark can be used to treat rheumatic joints.

Distribution
Blackwoods grow in cool temperate rainforests, dry grassy forest, riparian scrub, plains grassland and dry sclerophyll forests. They are found in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia.

Cultivation
This is a very fast-growing, upright tree with a dense canopy. It can tolerate dryness but thrives in deep, moist soil and can provide excellent screening and shade. It can grow 5–30 m tall and 2–6 m wide.

Ironbark

Yerrip (Dja Dja Wurrung)

The trunk of an Ironbark tree growing in the Milarri Garden
The distinctive trunk of Ironbark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon) growing in the Milarri Garden

Botanical name: Eucalyptus sideroxylon, Eucalyptus tricarpa
Family: Myrtaceae

Uses
The timber is used for the manufacture of weapons and tools, while the flowers are soaked in water to make a sweet drink.

Distribution
Ironbark is a general name for a number of species of eucalypt that all have dark, deeply-furrowed bark. They grow in the sclerophyll forest and box ironbark woodland of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

Cultivation
Ironbarks can grow 10–30 m tall and 10–20 m wide. Once established, these large, upright, spreading trees can withstand dry conditions. They prefer well-drained soils.

Coast Banksia

Birrna (Gunaikurnai)

Botanical name: Banksia integrifolia
Family: Proteaceae

Coast Banksia, Banksia integrifolia

Uses
Banksia cones can be soaked in water to extract the nectar and make a sweet drink.

Distribution
Coast Banksia is found in primary dune scrub and coastal woodlands. It grows in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania.

Cultivation
This tree grows 10–20 m tall and 5–10 m wide. It requires well-drained soil and summer watering to become established. The bark becomes gnarled and fissured with age. It is a useful plant for controlling dune erosion.

Yellow Gum

Terrk, Ban-napp (Dja Dja Wurrung), Easip (Woi wurrung)

Botanical name: Eucalyptus leucoxylon
Family: Myrtaceae

Yellow Gum tree flowering in Milarri Garden
Yellow Gum (Eucalyptus leucoxylon) flowering in Milarri Garden

Uses
The oil can be used for the treatment of colds, while the nectar is collected from the flowers to make a sweet drink. The timber is used to make weapons and tools.

Distribution
Yellow Gums grow in open rocky scrub, red gum, box and ironbark habitats and dry sclerophyll forests. They are found in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales.

Cultivation
This upright tree has a spreading canopy and grows 10–20 m tall and 6–20 m wide. It is easily cultivated across a range of soils and can withstand full sun to part sun.

Shrubs and tree ferns

Mountain Pepper

No recorded Aboriginal name

Botanical name: Tasmannia lanceolata
Family: Winteraceae

Uses
The unripe berries were used to relieve rashes and sores.

Distribution
Mountain Pepper is found in cool wet habits from sea level to alpine areas in Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania. It grows in mountain gullies and mountainous areas in tall open forests, woodland, sclerophyll forests and coniferous shrubberies.

Cultivation
In cultivation this aromatic soft-timbered shrub or tree can grow up to 10 m tall but can be pruned to shape. It has separate male and female plants; it flowers from September to January and fruits ripen in March. It prefers fertile, moist, well-drained, lime-free sites and does best in partial shade.

White Elderberry

Sambucus gaudichaudiana, White Elderberry growing in Milarri Garden
Sambucus gaudichaudiana, White Elderberry growing in Milarri Garden

Burne-burne (Djabwurrung), Garawed (Gunaikurnai)

Botanical name: Sambucus gaudichaudiana
Family: Caprifoliaceae

Uses
This soft-leafed shrub produces clusters of cream-coloured berries which can be eaten raw.

Distribution
White Elderberry is found in sclerophyll forests and riparian woodland and scrub in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia.

Cultivation
White Elderberry grows 0.6–2 m tall and 0.5–1.5 m wide. In cultivation this perennial herbaceous herb does best in well-drained soil but it can also tolerate moist shady areas.

Prickly Currant Bush

Bright red berries of the Coprosma quadrifida, Prickly Currant Bush growing in Milarri Garden
Bright red berries of the Coprosma quadrifida, Prickly Currant Bush growing in Milarri Garden

Morr (Woi wurrung)

Botanical name: Coprosma quadrifida
Family: Rubiaceae

Uses
The small red berries appearing in the summer were eaten.

Distribution
Prickly Currant Bush is found in cool temperate rainforests and wet sclerophyll forests and woodlands of Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania.

Cultivation
This open, sometimes straggly shrub grows best in cool positions with moist, well-drained soil. It reaches 2–4 m tall and 1.5 m wide.

Kangaroo Apple

Mookitch (Gunditjmara)

Botanical name: Solanum aviculare
Family: Solanaceae

Kangaroo Apple

Uses
The fleshy berries can be eaten but only when very ripe, often being placed in sand heaps to ripen. Unripe berries are poisonous. This plant was also used for contraception.

Distribution
Kangaroo Apples are found in red gum habitat, wet sclerophyll forests and grassy open forest in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania.

Cultivation
This soft woody shrub is fast-growing and requires regular pruning to stop it growing straggly. It grows to 1–3 m tall and 1–4 m wide. It requires well-drained soil in full sun or part shade.

Austral Indigo

Indigofera australis, Austral Indigo flowering in Milarri Garden
Indigofera australis, Austral Indigo flowering in Milarri Garden

No Aboriginal name recorded

Botanical name: Indigofera australis
Family: Fabaceae

Uses
The crushed roots can be used to poison fish. The leaves are also a medicine for skin complaints.

Distribution
Austral Indigo grows in all Australian states and territories. It is widespread in damp sclerophyll forests, riparian scrub and grassy open forest.

Cultivation
This small shrub grows to 1–2 m wide and tall. It is very attractive in flower with purple, white or mauve sprays from September to December. The flowers can be used as a blue dye. Austral Indigo can adapt to any well-drained soil and requires regular pruning to maintain shape and strength. It is lime tolerant.

Hemp Bush

No Aboriginal name recorded

Botanical name: Gynatrix pulchella
Family: Malvaceae

Uses
String can be made from the bark.

Hemp Bush

Distribution
Hemp Bush grows in red gum woodland, rocky sites, riparian scrub and damp sclerophyll forests in Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania.

Cultivation
An open woody shrub that can grow to 2–4 m wide and 1.5–3 m tall, Hemp Bush prefers moist well-drained soil and will suffer if not watered. Regular pruning is the key to keeping this shrub compact in cultivation.

Victorian Christmas Bush

Prostanthera lasianthos, Victorian Christmas Bush growing in Milarri Garden
Prostanthera lasianthos, Victorian Christmas Bush growing in Milarri Garden

Corranderrk (Woi wurrung), Geringdah (Taungurung)

Botanical name: Prostanthera lasianthos
Family: Lamiaceae

Uses
Men could start fires quickly with carefully chosen equipment. Victorian Christmas Bush can be used as the drill piece in conjunction with the flower stem of Xanthorrhoea australis as the butt piece. The Austral Mulberry is preferred as the drill piece.

Distribution
This tall shrub is found in valley sclerophyll forests and damp conditions in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania.

Cultivation
This small tree can be pruned into a hedge but needs protection from strong wind and mulching is beneficial. It grows 2–8 m tall and 2–5 m wide.

White Tea-tree

Burgan (Woi wurrung)

Botanical name: Kunzea ericoides
Family: Myrtaceae

White Tea-tree

Uses
The wood can be used to make implements and weapons.

Distribution
White Tea-tree is found in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.

Cultivation
This fast-growing shrub that is suitable for screening. It can grow 2–5 m tall and 2–4 m wide. Once established, it can tolerate wet and dry conditions, and can be pruned back hard.

Soft Tree Fern

A Soft Tree Fern (Dicksonia antarctica) in Milarri Garden, showing the tightly-curled new fronds emerging from the crown of the plant.
A Soft Tree Fern (Dicksonia antarctica) in Milarri Garden, showing the tightly-curled new fronds emerging from the crown of the plant.

Kombadi (Woi wurrung), Garak (Gunaikurnai)

Botanical name: Dicksonia antarctica
Family: Dicksoniaceae

Uses
In Victoria, people ate the starchy pith from the top part of the stem. They split the stem and scooped out part of the pith, an operation that does not kill the fern.

Both Rough and Soft Tree Fern can be eaten, although Soft Tree Fern tastes better.

Distribution
Soft Tree Fern is endemic to Australia and grows in Tasmania, Victoria, NSW and south-eastern Queensland. It thrives in moist areas, predominantly in wet sclerophyll forest and along creeks.

Cultivation
In cultivation this tree fern grows best in filtered light on loose well-drained soils with abundant water.

Dicksonia antarctica, Soft Tree Fern in Milarri Garden
Dicksonia antarctica, Soft Tree Fern in Milarri Garden

Grasses and groundcovers

Trigger Plant

The pink flowers of the Trigger Plant, Stylidium graminifolium
The pink flowers of the Trigger Plant, Stylidium graminifolium

Pinnong (Gunditjmara)

Botanical name: Stylidium gramminifolium
Family: Stylidiaceae

Uses
When the pink flowers are gently prodded, the style suddenly flips over. This was used as a source of amusement.

Distribution
Trigger Plant is widespread in red gum woodland, plains grassland, dry and valley sclerophyll forests and grassy open forests. It is found in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia.

Cultivation
In cultivation this tufted perennial can vary in size and will tolerate wet and dry conditions once established. It prefers moist well drained soils in sun or part shade. In the wild, it grows to 20–60 cm tall and 20–30 cm wide.

Southern Grasstree

Baggup (Woi wurrung), Tarndang or Dan Dan (Gunaikurnai)

Botanical name: Xanthorrhoea australis
Family: Xanthorrhoeaceae

Uses
The roots are eaten and the nectar on the white flowers, when soaked in water, can produce a sweet drink. The resin can be used as a sealant for manufacture of tools and other artefacts, and was used to fix spear or axe heads to shafts. It is also a useful leather tanning agent. The flowering stem can be used as a fire stick and for the manufacture of spears.

Southern Grasstree

In post-colonial times, Southern Grasstree resin found a variety of new uses. These include the manufacture of gramophone records, as a mahogany stain, floor sealant, church scent, and a component in making explosives.

Distribution
Grasstrees are found in grassy open habitats of Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia.

Cultivation
This striking plant is slow-growing-each metre of trunk takes about a century to form-but old Southern Grasstrees can reach several metres in height. They like well-drained soil and tolerate dry conditions once established, recovering well after fire. It has dense white spires of flowers from July to December. This species can be susceptible to Phytophora cinnamomi (cinnamon fungus).

Kangaroo Grass

Ban (Gunaikurnai)

Botanical name: Themeda triandra
Family: Poaceae

Uses
The stems and leaves can turned into string to make fish nets.

Distribution
This perennial tussock grass is found in all Australian states and territories. It grows in plains grassland, red gum habitat, box woodland, grassy woodland and open forest and dry and valley sclerophyll forest.

Kangaroo Grass

Cultivation
Kangaroo Grass is an attractive, soft grass that grows 40–75 cm wide and 70–90 cm high. Adaptable to most soils, it can be cut back in late winter to replenish growth each third year or so. It does not like wet soils.

Red-fruited Saw-sedge

Red-fruited Saw-sedge growing in Milarri Garden
Red-fruited Saw-sedge growing in Milarri Garden

No Aboriginal name recorded

Botanical name: Gahnia sieberiana
Family: Cyperaceae

Uses
The seeds were ground into a paste to make a simple bread.

Distribution
Red-fruited Saw-sedge is found in wattle tea-tree scrub and damp sclerophyll forest. It grows in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia.

Cultivation
Saw-sedges are important, sometimes exclusive, food plants for caterpillars of several butterflies. They also provide safe habitats for small birds. Gahnia sieberiana grows 1.5–3 m tall and 2–3 m wide. It prefers moist soil but will withstand some drought once established, and is useful to help control soil erosion.

Spiny-headed Mat-rush

Karawun (Woi wurrung)

Botanical name: Lomandra longifolia
Family: Xanthorrheaceae

Uses
The leaves are used for making baskets. Once picked, the leaves are split down the centre and left to dry for three or more days. Before being worked, they are dampened with water for 24 hours to render them pliable.

Spiny-headed Mat-rush

Distribution
Spiny-headed Mat-rush grows in grassy woodland, Red Gum habitat, dry sclerophyll forests, Coast Banksia woodland and tea-tree heath. It is found in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.

Cultivation
Lomandra is now widely planted in Melbourne streets and parks, where it grows 0.5–1 m tall and 0.5–1.2 m wide. This large tussock plant can withstand dry conditions once established and can live in dry shade under trees.

Bulbine Lily

The flower of the Bulbine Lily (Bulbine bulbosa) in Milarri Garden
The flower of the Bulbine Lily (Bulbine bulbosa) in Milarri Garden

Pike (Woi wurrung)

Botanical name: Bulbine bulbosa
Family: Asphodelaceae

Uses
Under the stalk and soft long leaves of the Bulbine Lily is a plump, round, sweet-tasting corm with many thick roots radiating from it. Traditionally, the corm can be eaten all year round and was probably cooked first.

Distribution
This perennial herb is widespread in dry and valley sclerophyll forests, Red Gum woodland, and plains grassland in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia.

Cultivation
Bulbine Lily prefers moist well drained soil and it will die back to tuberous rootstock in dry weather. If it’s provided with additional water it will continue to grow leaves throughout the year. It grows about 20 60–cm tall and 30–cm wide.

Small-leaved Clematis

Botanical name: Clematis microphylla
Family: Ranunculaceae

Uses
The leaves can relieve skin irritation but may cause blisters unless used in moderation. The roots can be eaten raw and taste peppery. The roots can be also be cooked in baskets and kneaded on a small sheet of bark into dough.

Small-leaved Clematis

Distribution
Small-leaved Clematis is found across Australia except the Northern Territory. This climber grows in grassy low open forests and, Coast Banksia woodland, plains grassland, primary dune scrub and dry sclerophyll forest.

Cultivation
This climbing plant requires well drained soil and will scramble up fences and other plants to about 1.5 m. It can grow in sun to part shade.

New Zealand Spinach or Warrigal Cabbage

No Aboriginal name recorded

Botanical name: Tetragonia tetragonioides
Family: Aizoaceae

New Zealand Spinach

Uses
The Koories around Sydney were said to despise the leaves as food, although the early settlers cooked them as spinach, and thought so highly of them that the plant was taken to Europe and America and cultivated for food. Despite the Sydney account, it is very likely that in other areas this is one of the many plants used by the Koories as greens. It contains poisonous compounds called oxalates and must be cooked properly before eating.

Distribution
New Zealand Spinach grows across Australia except the Northern Territory.

Cultivation
This easily-cultivated groundcover thrives in moist, well-drained soil in sun or part shade. It is low-growing and spreads about 1–2 m wide.

Flax Lily

Murmbal (Wergaia)

Botanical name: Dianella tasmanica
Family: Liliaceae

Uses
The leaf can be split into two down the mid-rib and rolled into string for use in tying and basket weaving.

Flax Lily

Distribution
Flax Lily grows in wet sclerophyll forests in damp conditions. It is found in Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania.

Cultivation
This perennial plant is very tough once established but prefers moist, cool soil. It can be grown in part shade to full sun and will develop a strong clump of foliage about 0.6–1.5 m tall and 0.5–2 m wide.

Native Geranium

Native Geranium (Geranium solanderi) growing in Milarri Garden
Native Geranium (Geranium solanderi) growing in Milarri Garden

Terrat (Woi Wurrung)

Botanical name: Geranium solanderi
Family: Geraniaceae

Uses
This plant is high in medicinal tannin used to treat diarrhoea. Geraniums have tuberous roots like radishes which contain nutritious starch. These roots can be pounded to break down the fibrous texture before being cooked and eaten.

Distribution
Native Geranium grows in grassy open forests, riparian scrub, sclerophyll forests and Red Gum habitat. It is found in Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia.

Cultivation
This prostrate perennial will thrive in damp areas and well-drained soils. With the right conditions it can create a dense mound of foliage about 0.5 m tall and 0.6–1.5 m wide.

Pigface

Keeng-a (Bunganditj), Katwort (Gunaikurnai)

Botanical name: Carpobrotus rossi
Family: Aizoaceae

Pigface (Carpobrotus rossi) growing in Milarri Garden
Pigface (Carpobrotus rossi) growing in Milarri Garden

Uses
The fruits are red when ripe in summer, and were eaten raw; the tiny seeds and sweet pulp can be sucked out from the base. The green leaves were eaten as a salad or were cooked and eaten with meat. They are often salty, but when old are unpalatable because of the tannin they contain.

Inland Pigface was once abundant on the northern plains of Victoria, but was destroyed by cattle and sheep.

Distribution
Pigface is common in the primary dune scrub and Coast Banksia woodland of Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia.

Cultivation
This trailing, low-growing succulent loves sandy soil and is easily propagated from cuttings. Full sun promotes vigorous growth and it can be pruned to shape. It grows 2–3 m wide.

Common Tussock Grass

No recorded Aboriginal name

Botanical name: Poa labillardieri
Family: Poaceae

Uses
Leaves and stems of the larger tussock grasses can be used for string or basket-making.

Distribution
Common Tussock Grass grows in open rocky scrub, Red Gum, box and ironbark habitats and dry sclerophyll forests. It is found in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales.

Common Tussock Grass

Cultivation
This grass grows 0.3–0.8 m tall and flowering stems to 1.2 m tall. It may change colour in different seasons and conditions. It can adapt to a range of soil conditions, and in southern states it can be cut back to basal growth in late winter to promote fresh leaves.

Aquatic

Water Ribbons

Polango (Wathaurong), Loombrak (Gunaikurnai)

Botanical name: Triglochin procera
Family: Juncaginaceae

Uses
This plant was an important food source. People ate the tubers raw or cooked.

Distribution
This plant is common in shallows of freshwater lakes and streams across Australia. It is found within water bodies of swamp scrub, riparian woodland, grassy low open forest and moist sclerophyll forests.

Water Ribbons

Cultivation
Water Ribbons leaves can grow 0.1–2 m long and float on the water surface. This plant likes a lot of rich organic matter and to be submerged when planted.

Common Reed

Djarg (Wemba Wemba and other Kulin languages, Kowat (Gunaikurnai)

Botanical name: Phragmites australis
Family: Poaceae

Uses
A multipurpose plant. The shafts can be used in the manufacture of spears and the leaves can be woven into baskets. Sections of the hollow stems can be strung into reed necklaces or used as nose ornaments. In Gippsland, the sharpened ends of the stems are made into knife-like instruments for skinning animals. The roots can also be eaten.

Distribution
Common Reed grows across Australia in wet, brackish soils. It is common in riparian and swamp scrub, and Coast Banksia woodland.

Common Reed

Cultivation
This reed can reach 1–3 m tall. It is an attractive waterside plant in cultivation but can take over. This plant can be cut back to the ground at the end of summer to promote new green growth and remove old canes.

Common Nardoo

Dullum Dullum (Wemba Wemba)

Botanical name: Marsilea drummondii
Family: Marsileaceae

Uses
A food source in drier country, spore-cases of this water fern appear as the water recedes and detach from the plant as the soil dries out. The spore-cases were roasted and the soft spores were separated out and mixed with water to make a damper.

Common Nardoo

Distribution
Common Nardoo grows in all mainland states in flood plains, bogs and swamps in box and Red Gum woodland, riparian scrub and wetlands.

Cultivation
The stalks of this water plant reach 2–30 cm tall. It grows in boggy soil and can cover the surface of shallow ponds. Common Nardoo is dormant during winter in cooler areas, and it can be propagated by spores or by division.

Old Man Weed

Gukwonderuk (Wotjobaluk, Lake Hindmarsh)

Botanical name: Centipeda cunninghamii
Family: Asteraceae

Uses
To prepare a tonic used for colds and chest complaints including tuberculosis and as a general restorative, big bunches of the plant were gathered. It can be rubbed on directly for skin complaints or prepared by boiling or soaking in very hot water in a wooden or bark vessel at the edge of the fire.

Old Man Weed

Distribution
Old Man Weed grows in all states including Tasmania. It is rare in some areas and can be found in low soaks adjacent to rivers and in areas prone to flooding.

Cultivation
This plant grows about 10–50 cm tall and 30 cm wide. It tolerates full sun to filtered light in a range of soil conditions and can withstand wet conditions. It is fast-growing and sets seed readily.

River Mint

Poang-Gurk (Djab Wurrung, meaning 'bad smell')

Botanical name: Mentha australis
Family: Lamiaceae

Uses
The leaves can be used in earth ovens to add flavour to cooked food. People also crush the mint and inhale the aroma to treat coughs and colds.

Distribution
River Mint grows across Australia in wet sclerophyll forests and riparian scrub.

River Mint

Cultivation
This small spreading herb can grows well in cool, moist areas on the edges of ponds and paths. It also grows in wet soils.

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