June Meeting Report. DRB Nats
What an evening! The venue was packed to the rafters! One hundred and seventeen people attended with a record number of eighty four members, such was the popularity of the speakers and the topic.
Our main presenters were horticulturist Mark Tucek, from Tucker Bush™ , and Noongar cultural guide Marissa Verma, from Bindi Bindi Dreaming. They introduced members to the world of Australian edible plants.
To begin, Marissa gave an insight into her personal story and her spiritual connection with plants. She encouraged us to use all our senses to feel, hear, taste, see, and tune into the environment and get to know our country. She described the six Noongar seasons, the current one being Makuru (June and July), the time where animals head towards the hills and act as messengers. The Bureau of Meteorology is consulting with Aboriginal communities to monitor the weather in each of the seasons, and have a Noongar calendar on their website.
Mark and Marissa described an array of edible plants, including trees and herbs from all around Australia. They outlined the height and width of plants, growth habit, flowers, fruits and their uses, and which were suitable as pot plants. Many of the plants produce edible berries, plums, cherries—there is a mulberry-looking fruit, for example—and some are high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, such as the Gubinge or Kakadu Plum, which has up to 100 times more vitamin C than an orange.
The Illawarra Plum Pine (a conifer) has been grown as a street tree in Victoria Park/Carlisle) and can be grown as a hedge. This tree is also a good substitute for the mulberry and is great for jam-making.
The Youlk grows as a small shrub 50cm high x 1m wide and will supply up to a kilo of tubers. It is similar to a potato but tastes more like a carrot and can be harvested for more than two years. It is suggested to harvest tubers on one side of the plant and the following year harvest the other side. Youlk can be eaten raw or baked.
Amongst the herbs we were introduced to were Bush Mint (similar to Penny Royal), Native Thyme and Bloodroot (Bohn). Bloodroot is a natural dye, is hot and spicy, slow growing and turns your tongue black; it can be used in salads and on top of pizzas. For a list of how to grow, prepare and cook edible plants, visit the Tucker Bush™ website.
Mark and Marissa have teamed together and started Tucker Bush Schools Program, in which schools can become involved in growing native edible plants by developing Tucker Bush gardens.
The evening ended with a queue of members buying Tucker Bush™ edible plants that Mark had brought along.