Symbol-free feeding (on the coast again)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

We haven't been able to stay away from the Victorian coast this summer and so we've had to find out a little more about the edibles down there as we camped again and had at least one main meal a day of fish and greens that we foraged and hunted (with hand spear) for. We left home in Jaara country and moved around through Wathaurong and on into Bunurong country, crossing the bay at Queenscliff by ferry.

These are some of the things we found:

Tetragonia implexicoma, Bower Spinach similar to New Zealand Spinach (Tetragonia tetragonioides) by its 4 perianth segments (instead of 5), its yellow flowers and succulent fruit. Used as a leaf vegetable by Indigenous Australians and early Europeans as a source of vitamin C to ward off scurvy. The berries were used as a red dye; they are edible but not highly desirable. 
Tetragonia implexicoma (Bower Spinach)

Rhagodia candolleana, Seaberry salt-bush is a rigorous plant good for stabalising eroded sites. Birds seed this species as they like to feed on the red staining berries. Confined to the Southern coastline of Australia. The cooked leaves of young plants are delicious, the fruit is very bitter but edible, very dark red when ripe, would make a great dye.
Rhagodia candolleana (Seaberry salt-bush)

Carpobrotus glaucescens – all parts of Pigface are edible. The raw purple flowers are delicious, sweet and salty they taste like figs; fresh or dried fruit; triangular leaves cooked; high in protein. 
Carpobrotus glaucescens (Pigface)

Lycium ferocissimum the African boxthorn, according to Tim Low (1988) has orange or red berries, grows on coasts and on the plains in southern Australia, and the bitter berries are edible. We can also attest they are edible, although would be better cooked and added to honey or dried to extract the bitterness and bring out the natural sugars. They look similar to the native boxthorn (L. australe), which have smaller, fleshier leaves and are found inland in southern Australia.
Lycium ferocissimum (African boxthorn)

Meuschenia freycineti, Sixspine Leatherjacket colouration can change with growth. The species is endemic to Australia. The meat is delicious, cook with skin and peel off when ready or skin first.
Meuschenia freycineti (Sixspine Leatherjacket)

There were a number of things we tried but didn't know the names of, such as these two fish. 
Unidentified fish from Port Phillip Bay 

Alyxia buxifolia, Sea box is confined to coastal habitats along the southern coastline of Australia. Often grows in exposed situations where they are pruned by wind. The fruit is eaten by birds. We nibbled a tiny piece of berry and later found out they are supposedly toxic to humans. However, we can attest, they are not poisonous (fatal or otherwise) in a small dose. They are very astringent and not palatable at least eaten raw.
Alyxia buxifolia (Sea box)

Solanum carolinense, Tropical Soda Apple or Horse Nettle. This crazy looking thorny plant is a nightshade that hails from the USA. They start out with a mottle green fruit before turning yellow. Edibility is doubtful, we didn't try this plant and I couldn't find any information on this plant reported in Victoria, so looks like it has just landed and doing its thing. Other states have it on their radar as an introduced pest.

Solanum carolinense (Tropical Soda Apple)

Note: Although inlanders, Jaara people supposedly made routine trips down to the coast to feed on the abundance and variation of food found there. They made corroboree with other Kulin nation clans, traded goods and arranged marriages. It makes sense for us too to load up our backpacks and leave for the coast to look for some symbol-free food.


Newspaper by 2008

Back to TOP