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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 6



This genus embraces several species highly poisonous, and hence very destructive to sheep, cattle, and horses. In West Australia they are the bane of many pasture tracts, but fortunately in all other parts of Australia only one species is known to exist—Gastrolobium grandiflorum (F. M.), which ranges from the Suttor River of Queensland to the rear of Arnhem's Land. This is the species which Mons. Thozet forwarded, with a view that its medicinal properties might be tested, an investigation which is to be conducted conjointly on the West Australian species cultivated in the Botanical Gardens. It is likely that the poisonous principle is strongest in the seeds, as in some leguminous plants. It may, on this occasion, be worthy of record that the Lotus Australis, a plant of such wide distribution through this continent, and also occurring in New Caledonia, proves in some tracts unexpectedly highly deleterious, and thus caused vast losses at one season among the flocks in the Lake Torrens regions. Experiments thereon were made by Dr. Eades, Mr. Miscamble, Dr. Mueller, and the late Mr. Angus M'Millan, but it was shown also that the same species gathered on the shores of Port Phillip is inert. It was further shown by Drs. Rudall and Mueller that the cultivated plants of the Darling-river pea (Swainsona Greyana, Lindl.), which has such an extraordinarily deleterious effect on stock at certain seasons, was innocuous when given here in large quantity to sheep. The seeds of all these suspicious plants will be subjected to rigorous toxicological and chemical examination at an early period.

The gastrolobium scrubs can undoubtedly be destroyed by repeated burning and dissemination of perennial grasses and fodder herbs.