Today we went to Mt. Coot-tha Botanical Gardens to learn about Australian fauna. Paul was our tour guide and pointed out one plant that I thought was especially neat; the cunjevoi plant.
In Lamington National Park with John Hall we saw and (some of us felt) the Giant Stinging Tree. The tree is equipped with small hairs that have a toxin in them that is very painful to the skin. This protects the tree’s large leaves from being eaten by vertebrates. The small hairs rub the skin and get stuck inside. This can lead to pain that last a few hours but can reoccur over the course of a few months. Once I heard about that tree I kept my distance.
I was relived and surprised to hear about the Cunjevoi plant today. Paul taught us that the Aboriginal Peoples use it as an anaesthetic. The large, smooth bright green leaves can be rubbed onto the effected area and provide a cooling relief. The leaf will then leave a sticky reminisce on the skin that will dry similarly to glue. This can be pulled off and will remove the small hairs from the Stinging Tree. I find it absolutely amazing that the Aboriginal Peoples were able to figure out all of these natural remedies. I learned through Bill Gammage’s Book The Greatest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia, that when the Europeans first started arriving they thought the Aboriginal Peoples were simple people who wondered the land. Through all of my classes this term I have learned about the Aboriginal Peoples and how many innovative ideas they came up with. They had the time to try new things and made the land work for them. I think that they show us that there is a balance to nature and humans and that we can help one another. I am glad that the story of the Cunjevoi plant has been passed down through generations and that we got the chance to hear it.
Link to Garden’s Website: https://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/facilities-recreation/parks-venues/parks/brisbane-botanic-gardens-mount-coot-tha
Cunjevoi, Highly Commended 2019 Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize – Secondary
2019 University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize (Secondary School) Highly Commended
Cunjevoi: Is it Plant or an Animal?
Samuel Malone, Kedron State High School, QLD