On Non-Native Connections With Native Species, and viceversa

So, after much research you can now name the Oxalis you were having for dinner, Oxalis radicosa, a native oxalis.
Interesting how you used an old european recipe to prepare the plant, somewhat proving that trans-national ethnobotany is posiible!
There are a number of other examples of such relationship with plants, in both ways, migrant knowledge being adapted to indigenous plants and indigenous knowledge asserting itself with introduced botanical species.
Some examples come from the very area of Bundanon:


Inkweed
(Phytolacca octandra)
An erect branching perennial herb from tropical America, usually about 1m high with a similar spread, which may be sprawling and open in shade or more compact, dense and erect in full sun. Stems are smooth and green or reddish. Leaves are large (5-16cm) and oval with a pointed tip, and smell unpleasant when crushed. Flowers are small and white in tight narrow clusters. The purple-black fleshy fruits are about 5mm in diameter and also in narrow clusters. There is a large woody white taproot.
It generally appears after disturbance, such as clearing or fire. Clumps often come up around windrows of felled timber. The plant is poisonous but birds and foxes feast on it, spreading the seeds.
Leaves were boiled and used to bathe sores and as a tonic by Aborigines while early settlers used the red juice as ink.
inkweed

Common Hop Bush
(Dodonea triquetra)

A native erected soft leafy shrub to 3 metres. It grows in forests slopes and ridges on sandy soil, sometimes in dense colonies.
Fruit is a three winges capsule which turns to purple-brown.
It was an important Aboriginal medicinal plant: the leaves were chewed for toothache and used as a poultice for stonefish and stingray wounds, or soaked in water and used as a sponge to relieve fever.
The European colonizers instead used the fruits to make beer.

hop bush

Old Man's Beard
(Clematis aristata)

This native climber shows out where it drapes over forest trees and shrubs with its abundant white flowers and fluffy, whiskery seed capsules.
It is widespread in forests, especially shaded slopes.
Both Aborigenes and early colonists used the crushed leaves to cure head-ache by inhaling the aroma.
flowers in october and November.

beard

Cabbage Tree Palm
(Livistona Australis)

A medium to tall tree and one of the tallest of the palms, generally found in rainforest and sheltered eucalypt forest.
The heart of the palm was eaten by aborigenes anf early settlers as a vegetable.

palm
Water Vine, Native Grape (Cissus hypoglauca)

A strong woody vine with long thick stems which reach far into the forest canopy. Stems will grow to a tight thickness in rainforests and sheltered gullies.
THe black grapes are sweet and refreshing to eat, but more often astringent.
They were eaten by Aborigenes and used by early settlers to make jam and jellies. A short stem section is a source of drinking water.

native grape


examples of usages of non-culturally related plants abound all over australia though.
A singular one is Tamarind Trees (Tamarindus indica). They were imported by Macassan fishermen in the eighteen century, who travelled from Makassar to the Australian coast to harvest edible sea slugs.
The sea slugs were collected, oven dried and seasoned with Tamarind pulp to then export them to China, in a trade network which predates the British claiming of the continent.
As a result of this practice the beaches in the Northern Territory are studded by the tall trees, and local Aborigenes got to appreciate the fruits, collecting and naming them angkayuwaya.

So, after all it is possible to translate knowledge of landscape onto alien species or sorroundings.

Your time at Bundanon is nearly over.
You have been saving a few posts, particularly one on the reading of Feral Future, by Tim Low.
It might well be your last posting from the countryside for a while.

About info

Diego Bonetto is a multimedia artist living and practicing in Sydney, Australia, and is a key member of artists' collectives SquatSpace and the BigFAGPress. -The SquatSpace collective has been producing ground-breaking events and projects since 2000. The group has been curated in a number of shows both in Australia and overseas. The current initiatives, the Redfern-Waterloo Tour of beauty (www.squatspace.com/redfern) tackle issues of social representation and the politics of space generated by gentrification. -The BigFagPress (BFP) is a publishing facility housed in Wooloomooloo, Sydney. The BFP is a salvaged 4-tonnes Off-set proof press. The press allows for the creation of countless artworks by keen printmakers and self-started publishers. www.bigfagpress.org Diego has also been working with WeedyConnection, an environmental art campaign. The project involves an online resource (www.weedyconnection.com), short documentary films, cooking shows, blogs, installations, prints, facebook interventions and various site-specific installations in the form of self-guided tours. WeedyConnection tackle the anthropocentric view of what environment should look like. Based on research and data provided by disciplines as far apart as biology, anthropology, paloenthology, social ecology and ethno botany it formulates ethical questions about cultural representation in times of environmental urgency.
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