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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 6

List of Some of the Roots and Fruits Used as Vegetable food by the Aboriginals of Northern Queensland, Australia. by a. Thozet, esq. — Without Preparation

List of Some of the Roots and Fruits Used as Vegetable food by the Aboriginals of Northern Queensland, Australia. by a. Thozet, esq.

Without Preparation.


1. Hibiscus heterophyllus, Vent. Native Sorrel. Batham,—Banks of rivers and creeks, occasionally on plains. A rather tall shrub, part of the stem and young branches covered with small prickles. Leaves entire or lobate. Flower white and pink or yellow, with purple centre. (Roots of young plants, young shoots, and leaves eatable.)

2. Brachychiton platanoides, R. Br. Platan-leaved Bottle-tree. Ketey.—In scrub land. A tree of a beautiful pyramidal growth when young, becoming enlarged in the centre with old age. (Roots of young plants eatable.)

3. Brachychiton Delabechei, F. Muell. Bottle-tree. Binkey.— Generally in stony scrub land. Remarkable by its enlarged trunk, similar in shape to a lemonade bottle; some measure six to eight feet in diameter. (Roots of the young plants eatable.) The natives refresh themselves with the mucilaginous sweet substance afforded by this tree, as well as make nets of its fibre. They cut holes in its soft trunk, where the water lodges and rots them to the centre, thus forming so many artificial reservoirs. On their hunting excursions afterwards, when thirsty, they tap them one or two feet below the old cuts, and procure an abundant supply.

4. Vitis opaca, F. Muell. Round Yam. Yaloone (large); Wappoo Wappoo (small).—In clayey soil. Small creepers; leaflets usually three, four, or five, dark green and smooth. Berries black and globular. Tubers very numerous, some weighing five to ten pounds. Eaten in hot weather like water-melons (the small and young are the best); they are, however, difficult to digest. Probably the yam alluded to by Leichhardt; in his "Journal of an Overland Expedition," page 150, he says—"Both tubers and berries had the same pungent taste, but the former contained a watery juice, which was most welcome to our parched mouths."

5. Dioscorea punctata, R. Br. Long Yam. Kowar.—In scrubs and creeks. A small rough, twining creeper. Leaves heart-shaped and smooth. Flowers terminal The clusters of the winged capsule look, to an unacquainted observer, like the flowers of the common hop. (Small young tubers eatable.)

6. Heleociiaris sphacelata, R. Br. Rush. Kaya.—Lagoons, creeks, and ponds. Small, almost spherical tubers, six to twelve on each plant.

Stems or Flower-Stalks.

7. NymphæA gigantea, Hook. Blue Waterlily. Yako Kalor (Rkh. tribe), Kaooroo (Clev. B. tribe).—Abundant in all lagoons and ponds. Flower-stalks of the unexpanded flowers, after being broken and deprived of their fibrous part, are eatable.

8. Xanthorrhæa sp. Grass Tree. Kono.—Over ridges and mountain sides. Small part of the extremities of the young shoots, and the white tender base of leaves, eatable.

9. Livistonia Australis, Mart. Cabbage-tree Palm. Konda.—In valleys and gorges. 70 to 120 feet in height. (White part of the undeveloped leaves eatable.) " Several of my companions suffered by eating too much of the cabbage palm."—Leichhardt'8 0. L. Expedition, page 72.


10. Melodorum Leichhardtii, Benth. Merangara.—Scrub. A small shrub, sometimes a strong tall creeper. Bark aromatic. Producing in the top of our scrub trees an oblong or almost round fruit, with one or two seeds.

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11. Capparis Mitchelli, Lindl. Wild Pomegranate. Mondo.*—In open plains. A small tree of a very crooked growth. Bark longitudinally fissurated. Trunk and branches covered with short prickles, the branches nearly always drooping. Flowers white. Fruit large, oblong or spherical, 2 to 3 inches in diameter.

12. Capparis canescens, Banks. Native Date. Mondoleu.—In scrub and open forest land. A creeper, ascending shrubs or large trees, with stipulate hooked prickles. Leaves oblong. Flowers white. Fruit pyriform, ½ inch diameter.

13. Capparis nobilis, F. Mueller. Small Native Pomegranate. Rarum.—In scrub. A small tree, with prickles on the branches. Leaves oval-oblong. Flowers white. Fruit globular, 1 to 1½ inch in diameter, with a small protuberance at the end. Small, almost spherical tubers, six to twelve in each plant.

14. Grewia polygama, Roxb. Plain Currant. Karoom (Rockh. tribe), Ouraie (Clev. Bay tribe).—Among grass. A small shrub. Large, alternate, ovate, serrated leaves. Berries brown and smooth, two or four in an axillary peduncle. Leichhardt speaks of this small plant in his Journal, page 295—"I found a great quantity of ripe Grewia seeds, and on eating many of them it struck me that their slightly acidulated taste, if imparted to water, would make a very good drink; I therefore gathered as many as I could, and boiled them for about an hour; the beverage which they produced was at all events the best which we had tasted on our expedition, and my companions were busy the whole afternoon in gathering and boiling the seeds." The same explorer states also that d l'instar of the natives they obtained another good beverage by soaking the blossoms of the tea tree (Melaleuca leucadendron), which were full of honey, in the water used for drinking.

15. Spondias pleiogyna, F. Muell. Sweet Plum. Rancooran.—Scrub. A beautiful tree with erect trunk and pinnate glossy leaves. Eatable part (sarcocarp) red.

16. Rhamnus Vitiensis, Benth. Murtilam.—Scrub. A tree. Trunk and branches whitish. Leaves very smooth, shining, serrate, crenulate, and green on both sides. Berries ¼ inch diameter.

17. Ztzyphus jujuba, Lam. Torres Straits Jujube Tree.—The trunk and branches covered with prickles. Leaves ovate, rarely orbicular, green, smooth above, and white tomentose underneath. Fruit ovoid, yellow when ripe, ½ to ¾ inch diameter.

18. Rubus rosæfolius, Sm. Native Raspberry. Neram.—In creeks and valleys.

19. Terminalia oblongata, F. Muell. Yananoleu.—Scrub and open forest. A large tree, with branches spreading almost horizontally. Spikes a little longer than the leaves, with white yellowish flowers. Fruit purple, flattened and winged.

20. Barringtonia careya, F. Muell. Broad-leaved Apple Tree. Barror.—In open forest—alluvial soil. A small tree. Flowers white and pink. Fruit like a middle-sized apple.

21. Eugenia my rtifolia, Sm. Buyan Buyan.—In creeks. Rich bright foliage, with abundant white blossoms. Fruit rose and red, pyriform and drooping.

22. Cucumis jucunda, P. Muell. Native Cucumber. Pumpin.—On rich alluvial soil and amongst grass. Fruit from ½ an inch to ¾ of an inch in diameter and 1 to 1½ inch in length. The natives bite off one end, press the pulpy substance and seeds into their mouths, and throw away the outer skin or rind, which is very bitter.

23. Sarcocephalus cordatus, Miq. Leichhardt's Tree. Toka (Rockh. tribe), Taberol (Clev. B. tribe).—Banks of rivers and creeks. Stem erect. Leaves broad, oblong, deciduous. Flowers globular and fragrant. Fruit 1½ to 2 inches diameter, usually spherical, but varying much in shape, very soft when ripe, pulp slightly bitter.

24. Timonius Ruinphii, Cand. Kavor Kavor.—Beds of creeks. Fruit ½ inch in diameter, in shape not unlike the crab apple of Europe.

25. Maba geminata R. Br. Scrub box, or ebony. Ronone.—In scrub. A small tree, with dark scaly bark. Leaves ovate or obovate, almost sessile. Fruit small, egg-shaped, orange red when ripe.

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26. Achras Australis, R. Br. Baleam.—In scrub. A tall straight tree. Bark thin, grey yellowish. Leaves obovate, obtuse. Fruit as big as a middle-sized plum, with four or five smooth, shining, flattened seeds.

27. Carissa ovata, R. Br. Nativo Scrub Lime. Karey (Rockh. tribe), Ulorin (Clev. B. tribe).—In scrub. A small prickly shrub. Flowers white, fragrant. Fruit, ½ inch diameter, egg-shaped.

28. Myoporum diffusum, R. Br. Amulla.—Among grass. A diffuse, almost prostrate, small herbaceous plant. Leaves alternate dentate at their base, lanceolate, acute. Fruit ¼ of an inch diameter, on an axillary solitary peduncle, white and pink when ripe, slightly bitter.

29. Exocarpus latifolius, R. Br. Native Cherry. Oringorin.—In scrub. A small tree. Bark almost black, scaly. Leaves thick, dark green. Fruit—red when ripe.

30. Ficus aspera, Forster. Rough-leaved Fig-tree. Noomaie (Rockh. tribe), Balemo (Clev. B. tribe).—In scrubs and plains. Fruit black when ripe.

31. Ficus vesca, F. Mueller. Leichhardt's Clustered Fig-tree. Parpa.—In scrubs, banks of rivers and creeks. A good-sized tree. Leaves ovate, lanceolate, acute, dark, smooth, green above, and pale green underneath. The fruit, which is of a light red colour when ripe, hangs in clusters along the trunk, and on some of the largest branches.

32. Pipturus propinquus, Wedd. Native Mulberry. Kongangn.—In creeks. A soft shrub, almost herbaceous. Leaves broadly ovate, serrate, acuminate, tomentose, and white underneath. Fruit white, transparent.

33. Musa Banksii, F. Mueller. Native Banana. Morgogaba (Clev. B. tribe).

34. Pandanus pedunculatus, R. Br. Screw Pine. Kaor.—Principally on the sea coast. The eatable part is the side of the seeds adhering to the rachis.


35. Nelumbo nucifera, Gaertn. Pink Water Lily. Aquaie.—In lagoons. A splendid aquatic plant. The stalk of the leaves erect; the latter peltate, slightly concave, one or two feet diameter. Flowers pink, live to eight inches diameter. Seeds, 20 to 35; more than three-quarters imbedded in a large flat-topped torus.

(2 bis) Brachychiton platanoides, R. Br.

(3 bis) Brachychiton Delabechei, Ferd. Mueller.

37. Sterculia quadrifida, R. Br. Convavola.—In scrubs and creeks. Leaves ovate or cordate. The pod, which contains three to six black ovoid seeds, is of a bright crimson colour when ripe.

(7 bis) Nympilea gigantea, Hook.

* The aboriginal name is given in allusion to the heel of a native, the fruit when ripe resembling that part of the foot.

Diminutive of Mondo.