Australian Plants and Flowers, Nature
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Bush Tucker # 1 – Tjunguri

Twining Frinch Lily Thysanotus patersonii

Ever since watching Major Leslie James Hiddins’s (aka ‘The Bush Tucker Man’) television shows back in the 90’s I’m totally fascinated by whatever resources nature provides man to survive. I’ll never forget the Major driving around in his Perentie – talking with that Aussie twang about everything edible from underneath his trademark Akubra hat. The episode that stayed with me most is about Burke and Wills, the famous explorers who died of starvation in The Cooper surrounded by ample quantities of Nardoo or Desert Fern – used by local aborigines as an important food source and given to the explorers to eat. They first consumed it without a problem and soon after started to collect and prepare their own. Despite the consumption of substantial quantities they grew weaker and thinner and developed tremors of hands, feet and legs and a slowing pulse. By not following or observing the correct recipe – roasting the spore cases before grinding them into a fine powder – Burke and Wills developed a disease known as Beri-Beri or Thiamine (Vitamine B1) deficiency. Both starved to death while surrounded by a plant that could have saved their lives, ironically – as an old Kalanga lady in Zimbabwe once told me, “there is no need to die as the Bush is one big supermarket”. Fully surrounded by nature now I regularly go out and explore the forests surrounding our house. Now Kambarang or the season of birth has started there are numerous plants to be found that have traditionally been collected by the Nyungar people of south-west to provide good nutrition for the community. The Fringe Lily or Tjunguri is only one of them – a delightful plant with beautiful purple flowers that are in full bloom from August to November. After flowering the plant dies back to a tuber that contains plenty carbohydrates, ready to be collected by hungry explorers.

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