Tag Archives: australia

Cobblers peg (Bidens pilosa)

Latin Name: Bidens pilosa

Family: Asteraceae or Compositae











An annual plant. The stems are bristly and sticky. They are square in cross section. It trails over other plants. It climbs by hooked bristles. The leaves are bristly and sprout from the stems in clusters of 6-8. The leaves do not have stalks. The flowers are small and white. The seed pods are bristly and have 2 round segments about 3 mm wide.
A small annual upright herb with small black seeds in heads. It is an erect branched herb 0.2 to 1.5 m tall. The branches or stems have parallel lines or ridges. The stems are four angled. The leaves are up to 15 cm long with the upper ones much smaller. The leaves are divided into 3-5 leaflets. The end leaflet is usually larger (3 cm x 9 cm). The edges of the leaves are toothed. The flowers occur at the end of branches. They are on long stalks. The flowers are brown or yellow. The seeds are black with 2-4 projections at the top. (The seeds often stick to clothes.)

Notes: It is a commercially cultivated vegetable. This plant is a troublesome weed in many places. It is only a very minor food in Papua New Guinea. It is both grown and eaten in Africa. It is widely used throughout Malawi and Zimbabwe. This plant has been used in medicine and recent studies have shown these treatments are due to chemicals effective in controlling bacteria (gram positive types) and assisting liver function. Leaves are a good source of iodine. There are about 200 Bidens species. Most are in North America.

Edible Uses: The seeds are used in making an Igorot rice wine called “sinitsit” in the Philippines.
The seeds are eaten, particularly by children (e.g. in Enga) in Papua New Guinea.
The young leaves are edible cooked. They should be cooked due to saponins.
The leaves are cooked in soups and stews. The young leaves can be dried for later use. Fresh they can only be stored for 3-4 days.
They are also used as a substitute for tea. A good source of iodine.

Warnings: The roots, leaves and flowers are strongly phototoxic. Substances isolated from the leaves can kill human skin in the presence of sunlight

Bidens pilosa











Medicinal Uses: Alterative; Antifungal; Antiinflammatory; Antirheumatic; Styptic.

Medicinal Information: A juice made from the leaves is used to dress wounds and ulcers. A decoction of the leaves is anti-inflammatory, styptic and alterative. The whole plant is antirheumatic, it is also used in enemas to treat intestinal ailments. Substances isolated from the leaves are bactericidal and fungicidal, they are used in the treatment of thrush and candida. In traditional Chinese medicine, this plant is considered a medicinal herb, called xian feng cao.



Chicory (Cichorium intybus)

Latin Name: Chicory (Cichorium intybus)

Family: Asteraceae or Compositae













Description: A perennial herb up to 1 m high. It forms clumps. It has white, milky sap when parts are broken off. Kinds have been selected either for their fattened edible roots or for their edible leaves. The plant has a large taproot. The leaves are sword shaped and have teeth along the edge. The leaves form a cluster around the base of the plant. They can be 12 cm long. The leaves up the stem clasp the stem. The highest leaves are reduced to bracts. It has a bright blue, pink or white flowers on a branched stem. The flowers are dandelion-like. The flower heads can be 3.5 cm across. Several cultivated varieties have been produced.

Cichorium intybus











Notes:  The chicory plant is one of the earliest cited in recorded literature. Horace mentions it in reference to his own diet, which he describes as very simple: “Me pascunt olivae, me cichorea, me malvae” (“As for me, olives, endives, and mallows provide sustenance”). In 1766, Frederick the Great banned the importatation of coffee into Prussia leading to the development of a coffee-substitute by Brunswick innkeeper Christian Gottlieb Förster (died 1801), who gained a concession in 1769/70 to manufacture it in Brunswick and Berlin. By 1795 there were 22 to 24 factories of this type in Brunswick. Lord Monboddo describes the plant in 1779[48] as the “chicoree”, which the French cultivate it as a pot herb. In Napoleonic Era France chicory frequently appeared as either an adulterant in coffee, or a coffee substitute. Chicory was also adopted as a coffee substitute by Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War, and has become common in the United States. It was also used in the United Kingdom during the Second World War, where Camp Coffee, a coffee and chicory essence, has been on sale since 1885.
The cultivated chicory plant has a history reaching back to ancient Egyptian time. Medieval monks raised the plants and when coffee was introduced to Europe, the Dutch thought that chicory made a lively addition to the bean drink.
In the United States chicory root has long been used as a substitute for coffee in prisons. By the 1840s, the port of New Orleans was the second largest importer of coffee (after New York). Louisianans began to add chicory root to their coffee when Union naval blockades during the American Civil War cut off the port of New Orleans, thereby creating a long-standing tradition.
Chicory is also mentioned in certain sericulture (silk-growing) texts. It is said that the primary caretaker of the silkworms, the “silkworm mother”, should not eat or even touch it.
The chicory flower is often seen as inspiration for the Romantic concept of the Blue Flower (e. g. in German language ‘Blauwarte’ ≈ ‘blue lookout by the wayside’). It was also believed to be able to open locked doors, according to European folklore.

Edibility Rating out of 5:  4

Medicinal Rating out of 5:  3

Edible Uses: Leaves – raw or cooked. The leaves are rather bitter, especially when the plants are flowering. The leaves are often blanched by excluding light, either by removing all the leaves and then earthing up the new growth, or by covering the plant with a bucket or something similar. Whilst this greatly reduces any bitterness, there is also a corresponding loss of vitamins and minerals. The blanched leaves are often used in winter salads (they are known as chicons) and are also cooked. The unblanched leaves are much less bitter in winter and make an excellent addition to salads at this time of year. Flowers – raw. An attractive addition to the salad bowl, but rather bitter. Root – cooked like parsnip. The boiled young roots form a very palatable vegetable. The root is said to be an ideal food for diabetics because of its inulin content. Inulin is a starch that cannot be digested by humans, it tends to pass straight through the digestive system and is therefore unlikely to be of use to a diabetic,however, the inulin can be used to make a sweetener that is suitable for diabetics to use. Chicory-root is free of harmful ingredients, and is essentially a concentrated combination of three sugars (pentose, levulose and dextrose) along with taraxarcine (the bitter principle of dandelion). It is especially important as source of levulose. Roots are used in seasoning soups, sauces and gravies, and to impart a rich deep colour. The roasted root is used as a caffeine-free coffee adulterant or substitute. Young roots have a slightly bitter caramel flavour when roasted, roots over 2 years old are much more bitter. Wild chicory leaves are usually bitter. Their bitterness is appreciated in certain cuisines, such as in the Liguria and Puglia regions of Italy and also in Catalonia (Spain), in Greece and in Turkey. In Ligurian cuisine the wild chicory leaves are an ingredient of preboggion and in Greek cuisine of horta; in the Puglian region wild chicory leaves are combined with fava bean puree in the traditional local dish Fave e Cicorie Selvatiche. In Albania the leaves are used as a spinach substitute, mainly served simmered and marinated in olive oil, or as ingredient for fillings of byrek.
By cooking and discarding the water the bitterness is reduced, after which the chicory leaves may be sautéed with garlic, anchovies and other ingredients. In this form the resulting greens might be combined with pasta or accompany meat dishes. A common meal in Rome, puntarelle, is made with chicory sprouts.

Warnings: Excessive and continued use may impair function of the retina.

Medicinal Uses: Appetizer; Bach; Cardiac; Cholagogue; Depurative; Digestive; Diuretic; Hypoglycaemic; Laxative; Tonic; Warts.

Medicinal Information: Chicory has a long history of herbal use and is especially of great value for its tonic affect upon the liver and digestive tract. It is little used in modern herbalism, though it is often used as part of the diet. The root and the leaves are appetizer, cholagogue, depurative, digestive, diuretic, hypoglycaemic, laxative and tonic. The roots are more active medicinally. A decoction of the root has proved to be of benefit in the treatment of jaundice, liver enlargement, gout and rheumatism. A decoction of the freshly harvested plant is used for treating gravel. The root can be used fresh or dried, it is best harvested in the autumn. The leaves are harvested as the plant comes into flower and can also be dried for later use. The root extracts have experimentally produced a slower and weaker heart rate (pulse). The plant merits research for use in heart irregularities. The plant is used in Bach flower remedies – the keywords for prescribing it are ‘Possessiveness’, ‘Self-love’ and ‘Self-pity’. The latex in the stems is applied to warts in order to destroy them.

Other Uses: Biomass; Compost.

The roots have the potential to be used for the production of biomass for industrial use. They are rich in the starch ‘inulin’ which can easily be converted to alcohol. A blue dye has been obtained from the leaves. The flowers are an alternative ingredient of ‘QR’ herbal compost activator, a dried and powdered mixture of several herbs that can be added to a compost heap in order to speed up bacterial activity and thus shorten the time needed to make the compost.



Cathead (Emex australis)

Latin Name: Emex australis

Family: Polygonaceae

Emex australis

Emex australis

Latin Name: Emex australis

Family: Polygonaceae


Description: A small herb. It is like a dock but the stems trail along the ground. It is an annual plant. The leaves are 3-10 cm long on very long stalks. Male and female flowers are separate. The seed pods are large and spiny. The seed pods are about 1 cm long. They have 3 sharp spines

Edibility Rating out of 5: 1

Medicinal Rating out of 5: 1

Emex australis











Edible Uses: Young leaves cooked. The leaves contain oxalates and are laxative in large quantities.

Warnings: The 3-cornered seeds can be very painfull if stepped upon, They are renown to pierce through bycicle tyres.

Medicinal Uses: When eaten in quantity, the leaves have a laxative effect upon the body.



Blue Flax Lilly (Dianella caerulea)

Latin Name: Dianella caerulea

Family: Xanthorrhoeaceae


Description: A plant which keeps growing from year to year. It forms mats. It grows to 0.5 m high and spreads to 0.3 m across. The stem is erect. The leaves are long and strap like. The clasp the stem at the base. They can be 75 cm long with rough edges. The flowers are blue in loose clusters at the ends of branches. The flowers are star shaped. The fruit are shiny blue berries. They are 7-12 mm long.

Notes: It adapts readily to cultivation and is commonly seen in Australian gardens and amenities plantings.


Edible Uses: Fruit – raw or cooked. The fruit is up to 1.5cm in diameter. Roots – The length of rhizomes are pounded and roasted.

Dianella caerulea

Warnings: Please make sure you are looking at the right plant as some Dianella ( like D. tasmanica) are reputed toxic.

Medicinal Uses: None Known

Other Uses: Basketry; Fibre.

Other Information: A very strong silky fibre is obtained from the leaves. The leaves are also used in making baskets.

Amaranth (Amaranthus viridis)

Latin Name: Amaranthus viridis, A. retroflexus

Family: Amaranthaceae

9353743831_46f03d5996Description: An erect smooth branched herb without thorns. It is 30 to 60 cm high and grows from seeds each year. The stems are slender. The leaves are broad near their base and narrow near the top. Usually the leaves have notches. Leaves are 1-3 cm long with exceptionally long petioles. The flowers occur in the angles of the leaves and the seeds are small and brown or black. The spikes are not bristly.









Notes: Amaranthus viridis is used as a medicinal herb in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, under the Sanskrit name Tanduliya.

Edible Uses: Leaves – cooked as a spinach. The leafy stems and flower clusters are similarly used. On a zero moisture basis, 100g of leaves contains 283 calories, 34.2g protein, 5.3g fat, 44.1g carbohydrate, 6.6g fibre, 16.4g ash, 2243mg calcium, 500mg phosphorus, 27mg iron, 336mg sodium, 2910mg potassium, 50mg vitamin A, 0.07mg thiamine, 2.43mg riboflavin, 11.8mg niacin and 790mg ascorbic acid. Seed – cooked. Very small, about 1mm in diameter, but it is easy to harvest and very nutritious. The seed can be cooked whole, and becomes very gelatinous like this, but it is rather difficult to crush all of the small seeds in the mouth and thus some of the seed will pass right through the digestive system without being assimilated. The seed contains 14 – 16% protein and 4.7 – 7% fat. Amaranthus viridis is eaten traditionally as a vegetable in South India, especially in Kerala, where it is known as “Kuppacheera” കുപ്പച്ചീര. In Greece it is called vlita (βλήτα) and is one of the varieties of “horta” or greens known in Greek cuisine which are boiled and served with olive oil and lemon. It is also eaten as a vegetable in parts of Africa.[1] In Jamaica it is eaten as a vegetable and is known locally as callaloo (not to be confused with callaloo of most other countries). The leaves of this plant, known as massaagu in Dhivehi, have been used in the diet of the Maldives for centuries in dishes such as mas huni.[2]


Medicinal Uses: Astringent; Vermifuge.

Medicinal Information: A decoction of the entire plant is used to stop dysentery and inflammation. The plant is emollient and vermifuge. The root juice is used to treat inflammation during urination. It is also taken to treat constipation.

Other Uses: Yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant.



Sticky Cape Gooseberry

Latin Name: Physalis viscosa

Origin: Native of North and South America.

Alternative Name(s): Prairie Ground Cherry, Sticky Ground Cherry

Family: Solanaceae.

Known Hazards: Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where many of the members have poisonous leaves and stems, though the full ripe fruits are usually edible.

Sticky Cape Gooseberry

Habitat: Coastal sand dunes, sandy woods near the coast, pinelands and pastures.

Edibility Rating: 4 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 2 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: Perennial herb to 60 cm high. Leaves to 5 (rarely to 6) cm long and to 3 (rarely to 4) cm wide, light green, margins undulate. Fruit orange when ripe, contained in a dull yellow-green joined sepals (calyx) 15–30 mm long, drying light brown. Seeds disc-shaped, sticky, 1.7–2.3 mm long.
Flowers: Petals joined in a tube (corolla) 11–15 mm long. Flowers summer and autumn.The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by rhizomatous rootstock; plants sparsely hairy with minute forked hairs at least on calyx margins; narrow-ovate leaves; flowers with pale yellow corolla often with olive-yellow blotches between stamens, flower stalks 7–12 mm long; fruiting calyx papery, inflated, 10-angled in cross-section, containing a globe-shaped berry 10–15 mm wide.

Dispersal: Spread as seed by animals that eat the fruit, fruit floating on water and by cultivation spreading cut root sections.

Confused With: Other Physalis species. Most likely to be confused with Perennial Ground Cherry, Physalis virginiana, another rhizomatous species although this one has minute simple hairs or is hairless.

Edible Uses

Edible fruit – raw or cooked. Juicy and thin-skinned with a pleasant sub-acid cherry-like flavour.Said to be the best N. American species. The plant conveniently wraps up each fruit in its own ‘paper bag’ (botanically, the calyx) to protect it from pests and the elements. This calyx is toxic and should not be eaten.


Medicinal Uses

Aperient; Diuretic; Febrifuge; Poultice; Tonic. The fruit is aperient and diuretic. It is used in the treatment of gravel, suppression of urine etc and is highly recommended in fevers and in gout. The leaves and stems are febrifuge and slightly tonic. They are used in the treatment of the malaise that follows malaria, and for weak or anaemic people. The root has been used as a dressing on wounds.

Other Uses

None known

Notes: Seeds germinate and plants reshoot from roots in spring, growing over summer, aerial growth dies in autumn. Weed of irrigated land, railways and roadsides. Cultivation tends to spread plants. Fruit edible.

Radiata Pine

Latin Name: Pinus radiata

Image from WikispeciesOrigin: Native to small areas in coastal California.

Alternative Name(s): Monterey pine, Insignis pine after an earlier botanical name

Family: Pinaceae.

Known Hazards: The wood, sawdust and resins from various species of pine can cause dermatitis in sensitive people.

Habitat: The plant grows in well-drained and nutritionally poor soil.

Edibility Rating: 1 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 2 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: An evergreen Tree growing to 65m by 10m at a fast rate. It is in leaf all year, in flower from August to September, and the seeds ripen from July to August. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind. The plant is self-fertile.

Dispersal: Seeds spread by wind.

Edible Uses

Condiment: A vanillin flavouring is obtained as a by-product of other resins that are released from the pulpwood.

Radiata pine plantation, Lightow, NSW

Radiata pine plantation, Lightow, NSW

Medicinal Uses

The turpentine obtained from the resin of all pine trees is antiseptic, diuretic, rubefacient and vermifuge. It is a valuable remedy used internally in the treatment of kidney and bladder complaints and is used both internally and as a rub and steam bath in the treatment of rheumatic affections. It is also very beneficial to the respiratory system and so is useful in treating diseases of the mucous membranes and respiratory complaints such as coughs, colds, influenza and TB. Externally it is a very beneficial treatment for a variety of skin complaints, wounds, sores, burns, boils etc and is used in the form of liniment plasters, poultices, herbal steam baths and inhalers.


Other Uses

Dye; Hedge; Herbicide; Shelterbelt; Wood. Very tolerant of maritime exposure and salt-laden winds, it is also very fast growing. Increases in height of between 1 and 2.5 metres per year have been recorded even in exposed positions, it makes an excellent shelterbelt tree. A tan or green dye is obtained from the needles. The needles contain a substance called terpene, this is released when rain washes over the needles and it has a negative effect on the germination of some plants, including wheat. Oleo-resins are present in the tissues of all species of pines, but these are often not present in sufficient quantity to make their extraction economically worthwhile. The resins are obtained by tapping the trunk, or by destructive distillation of the wood. In general, trees from warmer areas of distribution give the higher yields. Turpentine consists of an average of 20% of the oleo-resin and is separated by distillation. Turpentine has a wide range of uses including as a solvent for waxes etc, for making varnish, medicinal etc. Rosin is the substance left after turpentine is removed. This is used by violinists on their bows and also in making sealing wax, varnish etc. Pitch can also be obtained from the resin and is used for waterproofing, as a wood preservative etc. Wood – tough and hard. It is light, soft, brittle, close-grained and not strong according to another report. It is widely grown for lumber in warm temperate zones and has been used for flooring, finishings and fuel.

Notes: Radiata pine is a tall evergreen conifer growing up to 50m tall in high quality plantation areas. The form of the tree in closely-spaced plantations is narrow while open-grown trees become spreading. Radiata pine bears separate male and female flowers on the same tree with the female flowers developing into woody cones with large numbers of winged seeds. Viable seeds may remain in the cones for several years and are often shed abundantly after fire which kills the parent tree.In the rush to reduce dependence on imports of softwood timber many thousands of hectares of unalienated native bushland were cleared and planted with Radiata pine. The extent of the plantation was often determined by adjacent land ownership and steepness of terrain. This meant that plantations often have a common border with conservation reserves and other native bushland. By 2003 there were over 716,500 ha of Radiata pine in Australia.A target of 16,000 ha was set for the ACT and this had almost been reached when major bushfires in 2001 and 2003 destroyed over 11,000 ha. A decision has been made to replant up to 7000 ha with Pinus radiata together with areas of native vegetation. The problem of weediness will reappear when the plantations reach seeding age.Pines have winged seeds which has aided their dispersal into bushland where they compete with native species. In practical terms it may never be possible to eliminate this dispersal while the seed source remains. Genetic modification to produce sterile pines which put more energy into wood production than reproduction appears to be the only solution to invading pines; however this scientific achievement is a long way off.

Honey Locust Tree

Latin Name: Gleditsia triacanthos

Mature Tree, Sydney

Mature Tree, Sydney

Family: Fabaceae or Caesalpiniaceae.

Known Hazards: The plant contains potentially toxic compounds.

Habitat: Usually growing singly, though occasionally forming almost pure woods, on the borders of streams and in rich woods. Usually in moist fertile soils but sometimes on dry sterile gravelly hills.

Edibility Rating: 3 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 2 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: Deciduous spreading tree to 25 m high. Leaves to 20 cm long, leaflets elliptic to ovate, hairless, sparsely toothed. Seedpod slightly sickle-shaped, compressed, not opening at maturity, with seeds surrounded by a sweet pulp. Seeds flattened, ovoid, brown, about 10 mm long.
In axillary racemes to 10 cm long, in most cases male and female flowers are on different plants but some plants have bisexual flowers. Sepals and petals similar, brownish-yellow, 3–5 of each. Flowers spring, either as leaves develop or after leaves appear. The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by simple or branched spines 2–18 cm long (some cultivars are spineless but some of their offspring are spiny); leaves pinnate or bipinnate, leaflets in 5 to 30 pairs, 1–4 cm long, 0.4–1.2 cm wide; sepals to 4 mm long, petals to 6 mm long, stamens 5–7; seedpod to 45 cm long, 15–30 seeded.

Edible Uses

Illustration from WikispeciesSeed; Seedpod. Seed – raw or cooked. It can contain up to 30% sugar. Young seeds taste like raw peas. Seeds are not always borne in maritime regions because the tree prefers long hot summers. The oval seeds are about 8mm long. They contain 10.6 – 24.1% protein, 0.8 – 4.3% fat, 84.7% carbohydrate, 21.1% fibre, 4% ash, 280mg calcium and 320mg phosphorus per 100g. The seeds have been roasted and used as a coffee substitute. Seedpods – the pulp is sweet and can be eaten raw or made into sugar. The render young seedpods can be cooked and eaten. The pulp in older pods turns bitter. The seedpods are up to 40cm long and 4cm wide. A sweet, pleasant tasting drink can be made from the seed pods. The seed pulp has been used to make a drink.

honey l

Medicinal Uses

Anaesthetic; Antiseptic; Cancer; Stomachic. The pods have been made into a tea for the treatment of indigestion, measles, catarrh etc. The juice of the pods is antiseptic. The pods have been seen as a good antidote for children’s complaints. The alcoholic extract of the fruits of the honey locust, after elimination of tannin, considerably retarded the growth, up to 63% of Ehrlich mouse carcinoma. However, the cytotoxicity of the extract was quite high and the animals, besides losing weight, showed dystrophic changes in their liver and spleen[260]. The alcoholic extract of the fruit exerted moderate oncostatic activity against sarcoma 180 and Ehrlich carcinoma at the total dose 350 mg/kg/body weight/mouse. Weight loss was considerable. An infusion of the bark has been drunk and used as a wash in the treatment of dyspepsia. It has also been used in the treatment of whooping cough, measles, smallpox etc. The twigs and the leaves contain the alkaloids gleditschine and stenocarpine. Stenocarpine has been used as a local anaesthetic whilst gleditschine causes stupor and loss of reflex activity. Current research is examining the leaves as a potential source of anticancer compounds.

Other Uses

Gum; Soil reclamation; Tannin; Wood. Planted for land reclamation on mining waste. The gum from the seeds has been suggested as an emulsifying substitute for acacia and tragacanth. The heartwood contains 4 – 4.8% tannin. Wood – strong, coarse-grained, elastic, very hard, very durable in contact with the soil, highly shock resistant. It does not shrink much but splits rather easily and does not glue well. It weighs 42lb per cubic foot. Largely used for making fence posts and rails, wheel hubs, farm implements etc and in construction.

Notes: Introduced as a fodder tree and cultivated as an ornamental. Pods are first produced when trees are 3–5 years old. Trunk is protected by thorns. Found in dense thickets along watercourses on the central coast, western slopes and tablelands of northern NSW and in south eastern Queensland. Introduced by William Macarthur to ‘Camden Park’, Camden NSW in mid 1800s and now widespread on the floodplain of the Hawkesbury-Nepean river system.

Hoary Cress

Latin Name: Cardaria draba

Image by Manuel M.Ramos Origin: Native of eastern Mediterranean to central and southern Asia

Alternative Name(s): White Weed

Family: Brassicaceae.

Known Hazards: None known.

Habitat: A weed of arable fields

Edibility Rating: 2 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 1 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: Erect perennial herb to 90 cm high. Stems with longitudinal ribs. Leaves grey-green; basalones ovate to elliptic to 15 cm long, margins entire or toothed, on a stalk; stem leaves ovate to oblong to8 cm long, margins entire to toothed, without a stalk and base stem-clasping. Mature fruit with a network of surface veins, on a stalk 4–15 mm long. Seeds ovoid, to 2.5 mm long, not winged, dark red-brown.
Flowers: In terminal, often umbrella-like, clusters. Flowers fragrant with sepals to 2.5 mm long, white petals to 4.5 mm long and six stamens. Flowers most of year but mainly spring and summer. The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, insects. The plant is self-fertile.

Flowers deatil by aspidoscelisDistinguishing features: Distinguished by spreading rhizomatous root system; dense covering of short hairs; heart-shaped fruit with the broadest part towards the base, to 4 (rarely to 5) mm long and generally wider with remains of style at top, almost hairless; fruit not opening at maturity but separating into two 1-seeded sections.

Dispersal: Spreads by buds on spreading roots, movement of root sections and by seed. Regrows from perennial rootstock. Plants may produce up to5000 seeds with high viability although most spread is by movement of pieces of root.

Edible Uses

Young leaves and shoots – raw in salads or cooked as a potherb. A report says that the young leaves contain the toxin hydrogen cyanide, though does not give any more details. In small quantities this substance is fairly harmless, and has even been recommended as having health benefits, but caution is suggested if you eat these leaves. The pungent leaves are used as a seasoning. The seed is used as a condiment, it is a pepper substitute.


Medicinal Uses

Antiscorbutic; Carminative. The seeds have been used as a cure for flatulence and fish poison. It is assumed that this report is referring to food poisoning caused by eating suspect fish.


Latin Name: Genista spp.

Broom Shrub

Broom Shrub

Origin: Native to Europe, Mediterranean to Western Asia

Family: Fabaceae

Known Hazards: None known.

Origin: Native to Europe, Mediterranean to Western Asia

Habitat: Thickets, poor pastures and heaths.

Edibility Rating: 0 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 1 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: A decidious Shrub growing to 0.6m. It is in flower from December to January. The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees. It can fix Nitrogen. Both genera Cytisus andGenista are similar in appearance and have the same common name. Genista contains 90 species of shrubs or small trees often deciduous or appearing evergreen due to green flattened branches. They are sometimes spiny. Pea-like yellow flowers are carried in dense heads. Seeds which are poisonous are borne in pods. The seeds may live for years in the soil germinating densely after fire.

Edible Uses None known

Medicinal Uses

Miscellany. Formerly cultivated as a medicinal plant. No further details.

Cluster of flowers by Tim Waters

Cluster of flowers by Tim Waters

Other Uses

Dye. A yellow dye is obtained from the plant.












Notes: One of the most common species is Montpellier broom, Genista monspessulana, an evergreen shrub to about 3000m high. Each pod contains about six black seeds which are shed explosively over one or two metres from the parent plant. Montpellier broom has an extensive root system which enables it to withstand drought. Montpellier broom is believed to have been introduced to Australia in the 19th century and has since become naturalised in NSW, Victoria, south west Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania and the ACT where it occurs along roadsides and in the hills behind Canberra.