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Wild Foods and Bush Medicines

Wild Foods and descriptions found growing at Sportsman Creek Conservation Area

Annual herb up to 50cm tall, sparsely hairy on stems. Juice has been used to cure inflamed eyes and is used as a Chinese medicine called xia hong. This plant has possible long term chronic toxicity. Commonly found in the grassier Open Eucalypt woodland on the Conservation Area.  

Found along the riparian zone on the Conservation Area is this terrestrial fern. The common maidenhair fern has been used as an “infusion of one part to five parts plant in one hundred parts of water as a soothing drink, it is reputed to be slightly astringent and emetic”.

Reference;  Lassak, E.V. & McCarthy T.   Australian Medicinal Plants. 

Image of the fragrant flowers on a Red Ash. A medium sized hardwood of the drier types of coastal rainforests making a strong recovery across the wildlife refuge. Although not a commercial species the heartwood is a rich red orange and has applications for decorative veneer and ornamental turnery and joinery. Medicinally, leaves were crushed with water and applied to the head to reduce headache and sore eyes. Infusions of the bark and root were rubbed on bodies to reduce muscular aches. The crushed leaves can be lathered to produce a bush soap, as they contain saponin. This tree has many common names including, Soap Tree, Leatherjacket,  culgera-culgera ( northern New South Wales), murrung and Coopers Wood to name a few.

Further reference-


These True Crickets are identified by their long antennae. They are ground dwelling and usually active at night when males construct complex love songs. Crickets have their ears on their front legs and are omnivorous scavengers, feeding on decaying plant matter, fungi and emergent plants. These important beneficial insects are in turn  prey for lizards and birds and are considered a delicacy in some countries and a good luck charm in others.

A common deciduous native climber on the wildlife refuge which grows along the coastal gullies and woodlands of Eastern Australia. Also known as “Sweet Tea” which was used in the early days of the colony in Port Jackson for treating scurvy, cough and chest complaints. No doubt, learnt from the Indigenous people of the area who also chewed the young leaves and ripe fruits which contain “glyciphyllin” for chest ailments.  Fresh leaves are still used today, boiled and drunk cold for natural health remedies.

Further reference;

Found fruiting along the riparian zone on  Sportsman Creek wildlife refuge, today. A common, small tree found in rainforests along the eastern seaboard and Top End of Australia.  The fruits are edible with a slight citrus taste, although not very nutritious.

Further Reference;   Low, T.   Wild Food plants of Australia.

Currently flowering across the wildlife refuge in the open forest ,the image is of a freshly dug plant. This erect, slender perennial herb has thick tuberous roots. Flowering is sometime initiated by heavy rain. Also called Blue Murdannia they have an edible root tuber which could be cooked.

I.D. courtesy of Dr. Greg Clancy.

Photographed on the Island at Sportsman Creek wildlife refuge. Also called Blueberry Lily a tufted and solitary perennial herb with fibrous roots. Their habit ranges from Nowra in the south to Queensland, preferring moist forest, dry woodland rainforest and coastal dunes. This species shown grows to 1.3 metres and the shiny blue to purple fruits are edible.

I.D. courtesy of Dr. Greg Clancy.

“These water plants have very long, slender leaves that vary greatly, some form have limp leaves that float on the water, as in this image on Sportsman Creek, or arch slightly above the water, while others have stiff leaves that rise above the water”. The tubers are edible  and taste sweet and juicy, similar to eschallot, without the bitterness.

Scroll image for enlargement.

Reference;  Low, T.   Wild Food Plants of Australia.

“More than 30 species of Acacia seeds are eaten by Indigenous people. Green seeds were eaten like peas after roasting in a fire.  The very hard ripe seeds are either ground, moistened and roasted first then ground between stones into a paste tasting like peanut butter. Acacia are extremely nutritious, yielding protein levels of 18-25 %, and sometimes high levels of fat”.  The bark of Acacia falcata (pictured) is also used as a linament for treating ailments of the skin.   Four Acacia species grow across the wildlife refuge. (A. leiocalyx, A. floribunda, A. falcata and A. irrorata subsp. irrorata).

Reference;  Low, T.   Wild Food Plants of Australia.