Growing knowledge of bush foods and medicine

1 May 2019

A Mimal Women Rangers’ plant project is helping to grow knowledge of bush food and medicine.

The project works with elders and landowners - Mimal’s ‘bush professors’ - to share their knowledge of plants with the rangers, local school and community.

“Knowing plants means you will never be hungry, even if you get stuck out bush,” Mimal bush professor Annette Miller says.

“We like to share our knowledge with the young kids, so they can see how important plants are to people, animals and our land.”

The elders and rangers have made several bush trips this year to identify important plants, their names and uses.

The information, pictures and videos being collected will be recorded into a database, which also aims to complement the Dalabon plants and animals book.

“The children love to collect the little bush currant juppih,” Ms Miller says.

“That is what we call it in Rembarrnga, and it’s called Djubbi in Dalabon.

“We find them in the wet season when they turn black or purple and they’re sweet and tasty and fun to collect.”

“Juppih are a good source of vitamin C, which helps absorb iron,” adds Shantelle Miller, who works at Bulman Health Clinic.

“There are bush medicine plants that help get rid of scabies, boils and other sores such as scratches and some that relieve itchiness.”

The work is also part of Mimal’s Junior Ranger program where students from Gulin Gulin school have joined the bush trips, learned about plants and collected native seeds.

“The students have found the seeds and taken them back the school nursery,” Mimal ranger Anthea Lawrence says.

“They grow the seeds and will use some of the plants to revegetate our local Weemol spring, one of our important areas.

“They’ve also grown cheeky yams, which are good to eat when treated.”

Mimal Women Ranger coordinator Julia Salt says undertaking the project has also highlighted the impact of weeds.

“We went to collect sugar cane grass seed the other day, but one area which used to be rich with it is now dominated by the weed grader grass,” Ms Salt said.

“So the project helps us identify areas to target, but it’s tough for everyone to see the damage weeds are doing.”

As part of their work, Mimal rangers and elders have also been teaching about weeds at the school.