Cape Cleveland Murrell’s food plants

Food plants named by James Murrell in ‘Sketch of a Residence Among the Aboriginals of Northern Queensland for Seventeen Years’ 1864. Each plant is listed below with the Aboriginal name (bold) followed by notes and comments, and finally the likely current scientific name (italic).

moogoondah, Native Rosella, root – Growing on top of the highest hills is the best eating; it is sweet firm, dry and flourishes best in red clay soil, Abelmoschus moschatus subsp. tuberosus?

malboon, Cardwell Lily, root – soft and nice eating, found in the scrub at the foot of hills, Proiphys amboinensis?

carnool, Grass Lily, root – sticky when cooked. Grows in grass on the mountains, white like a turnip, a small thin leaf, Murdannia graminea or similar small lilies

cahnan, Grass Lily, root – smaller and darker than above, Murdannia graminea or similar small lilies

booan, , root – creeper which grows on the high banks of creeks, having a small thick green leaf, not identified

manoon, root like a turnip but smaller, Wild Parsnip is very tasty. The thick, juicy taproots are sweet and fragrant, Trachymene sp.

cardoola or carlmba, root – runner in grass, blue flower, Tropical Speedwell. Has a swollen tap root. All parts of the plant were used as a cure for fevers & dysentery. In some ares leaves were chewed in lieu of Pituri, Evolvulus alsinoides

gowan gowan or oolooboo, large plum, nearly all seed – little substance, Burdekin Plum, Fruit eaten widely by NQ aboriginal people, Pleiogynium timorense

moogah muddah, small currant, very blue in colour, nearly all stone, Elaeocarpus sp.?

walba, very sweet, white, small berry, White Currant Bush, Flueggia virosa

mooray, red currant, nearly all stone, Currant Bush. Sweet and tasty, kid’s Fruit, Antidesma parvifolium

cowarah, red fig, Cluster Fig.- Ludwig Leichhardt noted “their situation was readily detected by the paths of the natives leading to them”, Ficus racemosa

ballamoo, black fig, Sandpaper Fig, milky sap used to heal wounds. Some fruit sweet, others insipid, Ficus coronata

mugurdah, breadfruit, grows in mountains, seeds rich in fats and protein. Need baking to remove toxins, or soaked to make an acholic drink. Leaf bases eaten raw. Leaves woven into baskets and mats. Pandanus sp.