Cape Cleveland Thozet’s plants

Species listed below were extracted from discussions on James Murrell’s food plants by Anthelme Thozet, botanist, of Rockhampton, which first appeared in the Rockhampton Bulletin on 14th March 1866, and from Report on the vegetable products exhibited in the Intercolonial Exhibition of 1866-67 by Mueller and Thozet 1868.

Each plant is listed below with the Aboriginal name (bold) followed by the old botanical name, then the current name, and comments.

barkabah, Barringtonia careya, Planchonia careya, Billy Goat Plum. Pink and white flower, fruit full of seed, tastes not unlike a dry banana. Bark of stem used to stupify fish in fresh water, bark of root in salt water.

balemo, Ficus aspera, Ficus coronata, Sandpaper Fig. A shrub verging into a tree. Oval dark green leaves singularly rough. Milky juice of young shoots is employed by the natives medicinally… very efficacious in healing wounds.

ourai, Grewia, Grewia latifolia, Scraped root bark used as poultice as a counterbalance to the balemo. Fruit a very small berry, generally in pairs.

kaourou, Nymphaea gigantea, Nymphaea gigantea, Blue Water Lily. Seed and root forming an important item of aboriginal diet.

kournabai, Triglochia?, Cycnogeton dubius, Yellow flower and a root considered a great delicacy.

kalado, Phascolus rostratus, Vigna radiata?, Small creeping leguminous plant with a root compared by Morrill to our carrot, growing abundantly and constituting a prominent feature of native gastronomy.

boganga or nargan, Caladium macrorrhizon, Alocasia brisbanensis, Found in moist shady places. A strong herbaceous plant with very large sagittate leaves. The young bulbs, of a light rose colour inside, found growing on large old rhizomes, are scraped, and divided in two parts, and put under the ashes for about half an hour. When sufficiently baked, they are then pounded by hard strokes between two stones – a large one, wallarie, and small one kondala. All the pieces which do not look farinaceous but watery when broken are thrown away; the others, by strokes of the konola, are united by two and threes, and put into the fire again; they are then taken out and pounded together in the form of a cake; which is again returned to the fire and carefully turned occassionally; this operation is repeated eight or ten times; and when the hakkin, which is now of a green greyish colour, begins to harden it is fit for use.

ulorin, Carissa ovata, Carissa ovata, Small egg-shaped slightly acidulated fruit.

nargado, Cycas media, Cycas media, Cycad seeds are very poisonous and require extensive baking & soaking to remove toxins. Nevertheless they were a staple food in many areas.

taberio, Nauclea leichhardtii, Nauclea orientalis, The mushy, bitter, banana-like pulp of the fruit was a useful food.

[name uncertain] Owenia cerat sefera, Owenia acidula, Emu Apple. The dark pulp is rich and tangy, though very acidic, resembling a very sour plum in flavour.

[name uncertain] Capparis mitchellii, Capparis mitchellii, Native Orange. Large pomegranite-like fruit.

[name uncertain] Nelumbium leichhardtii, Nelumbo nucifera, Pink Lily. Young tubers roasted, seeds eaten raw or roasted, also inner leaf stalks. Seeds sometimes ground into meal and baked as a bread.

[name uncertain] Dicoraee, Dioscorea bulbifera, Yam. Poisonous tubers grated, soaked and baked before eating.

morgogaba, Musa jackii, Musa banksii, Native banana. Full of black seed and very little other substance

egaie, Avicennia tomentosa, Avicennia marina, The Aborigines of Cleveland Bay dig a hole in the ground, where they light a good fire; when well ignited they throw stones over it, which when sufficiently heated, they arrange horizontally at the bottom, and lay on the top the egaie fruit, sprinkling a little water over it; they cover it with bark, and over the whole, earth is placed, to prevent the steam from evaporating too freely. During the time required for baking (about two hours) they dig another hole in the sand; the softened egaie is put into it; they pour water twice over it, and the midamois now fit for eating. They resort to that sort of food during the wet season when precluded from searching for any other. (Murrell’s testimony)

wangoora, Ipomaea?, Near Mt Elliot and Cleveland Bay, there is also an edible root, wangoora. The roots, very bitter, are cut in two, put into water for one hour and a half, and are afterwards baked for three to four hours, in the same way as the egaie;
they then carry it in a dilly bag (yella barba) to the water’s edge, where, by pouring water over it and pressing it, they make the starch fall upon the bark in the same way as arrowroot falls from the cylinder into the trough; they they wash it three or four times until the water is very clear, and the yellow fecula is then fit for use. (Murrell’s testimony)

barbaddah, Entada scandens, Entada rheedii, A strong climber. The seeds are put into the stove oven and heated in the same way and for the same time as the egaie; they are then pounded fine and put into a dilly bag, and left for ten or twelve hours in water, when they are fit for use. (Murrell’s testimony)

kanoul, kanane, boan, malbon, mogondal, The names of several other plants whose roots or bulbs were eaten, but which have not been identified.