5 Native Plants and Their Traditional Aboriginal Uses

5 Native Plants and Their Traditional Aboriginal Uses

Ever been curious about the traditional uses of Australia's native plants? Dive into this quick read to discover five versatile plants and their deep-rooted significance in Aboriginal culture.

Macadamia Nuts (Macadamia sp.): While we love munching on macadamia nuts, Aboriginal communities have long valued them for more than their nutritional value. Often used as a binder for ochers and clays to increase the longevity of face and body paints, and they've also been traded both within Aboriginal groups and with European settlers.

Kangaroo Apple (Solanum aviculare): Found in the eastern parts of Australia, this plant isn't just about its fruit. Aboriginal communities used it as a poultice for joint swellings. Plus, it's related to another plant that's a precursor for cortisone and oral contraceptives. Very versatile!

Native Sarsaparilla (Smilax glycyphylla): Used traditionally as an antiscorbutic (that's to prevent scurvy), it's even been said to taste better than its Jamaican or Central American counterparts.

Pituri (Duboisia hopwoodii): Australia's First Peoples have always had a knack for unlocking nature's pharmacy - Pituri is a native shrub from Australia's arid deserts, and was traditionally used in a similar way to tobacco. But its relative, Duboisia myoporoides, led to the discovery of scopolamine, a treatment for motion sickness.ย 

Eucalyptus: We've all heard of this one! With seven species used medicinally, eucalyptus leaves are a go-to for various treatments. From respiratory relief to skin sores, these leaves were (and still are!) a go-to remedy for a number of ailments.

These are just a small handful of native plants that Aboriginal people have harnessed for their medicinal properties for centuries.ย 
So, next time you're out in nature, take a moment to appreciate the deep knowledge and connection the Aboriginal community has with the land.ย Nature has so much to offer, stay curious and keep exploring!ย 

(Note: Always consult with a knowledgeable source before using any plant for medicinal purposes.)


  1. "Food, tools, and medicine: 5 native plants that illuminate deep Aboriginal knowledge." The Conversation. Link

  2. "Aboriginal medicinal plants of Queensland: ethnopharmacological uses, species diversity, and biodiscovery pathways." Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. Link