Aboriginal Plant and Fungi Use


Cunjevoi (Alocasia macrorrhizos) is a plant that the Queensland Aborigines used. It is found in NSW and QLD. The plant consists of green leaves, red berries and yellow flowers. The Aboriginals used it as a source of food but first, they had to roast and pound the plant before eating. They performed this method to get rid of the poison. If you ate the plant raw, your throat and mouth could swell and burn, causing pain. This may even result in death.

Kangaroo Apple

The Kangaroo Apple (Solanum laciniatum) is a strange fruit that looks a bit like a flower. The colour ranges from yellow to orange to red as it grows and ripens. Kangaroo Apples contain a soft pulp which has many seeds. They are found in nearly the whole of Australia. The Aboriginals ate the fruit only when it was ripe enough and fell off the bush, but the Tasmanian Aborigines picked them when they weren't ripe and buried them in sand-heaps and waited for them to ripen. This fruit can be poisonous when unripe.


Banksia (Banksia spp.) is a flower-cone that ranges from red to yellow. It is found in all of Australia. They are made of many little flowers grouped together to make one big banksia. The Aboriginals soaked the plants in water in bark to remove the nectar from the flower. They used the nectar for drinking. Some certain banksias keep the dry flowers on their cone and the Victorian Aborigines would use them as water strainers.


The hop-bush (Dodonaea viscosa) is a plant made of leaves and flowers that can range a variety of colours, including pink, red and yellow. It is found in all of Australia. The Queensland Aborigines used the plant root juice as medicine. It was used to cure toothaches, cuts and stingray stings.

Cherry Ballart

The cherry ballart (Exocarpos cupressiformis) is a fruit with a hard seed on the top. They are found in NSW, QLD, SA, TAS and VIC. The Aboriginals used this fruit as a source of food but also used them as medicine. The sap of the plant was applied to snakebites. Also, the leaves were used to create a smoke for repelling insects.

Mycoclelandia bulundari

This particular fungi grows in NT and WA. It is a desert truffle-like fungi and is usually around 5 centimetres in radius. The Aboriginals used this as a source of food and ate the fungi after being cooked in hot sand and ashes. The fungi fluid is also used as medicine to treat sores and sore eyes.
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Phellinus sp.

Phellinus sp. is a hard fungi, colours usually ranging from dark bronze to black with a cracked surface most of the time. The Aboriginals used the fungi for medicinal purposes. The smoke created from the fungi's burning fruiting bodies was inhaled by anyone who had sore throats. Scrapings from slightly charred fruiting bodies were drunk with water to cure coughing, sore throats, fevers and diarrhoea.

Pycnoporus sp.

Pycnoporus sp. is a fungi that has a striking appearance of bright red-orange brackets that is found on dead wood. It was used as medicine by the Aboriginals. They sucked on the fungi to cure sore mouths and lips and was also used as a teething ring. It was used on babies with oral thrush. In Australia, there are two species of this fungi: Pycnoporus coccineus and Pycnoporus sanguineus.

Choiromyces aboriginum

Choiromyces aboriginum is a fungi similar to Mycoclelandia bulundari. The truffle-like fungus is found in dry areas of WA, SA and NT. It grows to around 7 centimetres in diameter and holds a roughly sphere shape. The Aboriginals ate the fruiting bodies either raw or cooked. The method they used to cook the fungi was similar to how they cooked the Mycoclelandia bulundari. They would cook it in hot sand and ashes and eat them. The fungus was also used as a source of water.

Picture reference: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Maeandertrueffel.jpg

Pisolithus sp.

Pisolithus sp. is a fungus that produces powdery spores when fully mature. The fruiting body would have a tarry consistence so the Aboriginals used it on wounds. According to the Australia Government website, this plant was probably eaten at a young age but only in emergencies.

Picture reference: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gugglebun/14883496829/


This Australian Government website provides more information on plants and fungi that the Aboriginals used.