Australian herbs

Australian herbs are powerful medicines,

even when only used on a physical level.

Some major plants or preparations are:

Pterocaulon Sphacelatum
Pterocaulon Odora

Sniffing and Rubbing. Two closely related members of the daisy family with similar properties.
They are strongly aromatic, upright, perennial plants, 50 - 70 cm tall with small mauve flowers. Usually found in sandy grevel along waterways.

Jujuminyiminyi can be used as a decongestant by placing a fresh twig through the nasal septum, or when dried, by grinding and boiling then rubbing on the chest. It can be placed in the Coolamon (baby carrier) to keep babies healthy.


A drinking and rubbing medicine shrub, 2 metres tall with tubular flowers varying from orange to red. It is common on sandy clay and stoney sites, and is frequently found in soil traps in the rocky hills throughout arid Australia. Pick the leafy branches, cover with water and boil for a few minutes. You can drink it or rub it on. Good for bad colds.

Stemotia Viscosa Odora

A sniffing and rubbing medicine. Aromatic herb, grows to 60 cm tall with blue-violet flowers. Very common along all water courses in central Australia. The odour, which some find very pleasant but other objectionable, is very strong and can be detected several metres from the plant. Use the fresh plant by placing it through the pierced nasal septumas a decongestant, but when boiled it is used as a disinfectant for sores and eyes.

Cymbopogon Ambiguus
Lemon Grass

A drinking and rubbing medicine. Grass strongly scented, growing to 80 cm tall in gravelly sand along water courses, particularly in the rocky hills. All parts of the plant are beneficial, although some people use only the roots while others use the whole plant or the leaves and/or the fruiting parts. These are dried, crushed and placed in boiling water. Used as a liniment by gently rubbing. It is useful for scabies, sores, cramps and headaches. Small quantities can be drunk if feeling sick. Kalpalpi is a very important medicine to the aborigines and it is known wherever it grows.


A chewing and tying medicine. Supple twining creeper with heart shaped, or long pointed fleshy leaves. It is generally found climbing tree trunks through shrubs in sandy or rocky country. Chew the leaves for a bad cold. Wind the stem around the belly for a stomach ache, remove the leaves and sap exudes from the break which cools the belly, then lie down and rest. This plant is used for making many different things like decorating a spear with the leaves. In addition, the Ngalyipi can be used as a strap for baby-carriers and also for typing up bundles of spears during transportation.


A rubbing and contact medicine. Cururbit with long trailing arms and cucumber like fruits, 2 - 4 cm long. A favourite kangaroo food, it is found on the sand plains, but must not be eaten by humans. Break open the fruit and dab it on the forehead. It is good for headaches, and on hop days has a cooling effect. Put it in the ear so that the juice runs down. Yulkardi is good for ear ache.


An aromatic shrub, eucalypt scented from 1 - 3 metres tall, with white flowers, growing in soil traps on rocky hills. The leaves are dried and crushed. The powder is cattered over the surface of water holes. 15 minutes later, the water is sufficiently poisoned to drug birds up to the size of an emu, making them easy to catch. It is too powerful to be safely used by humans and branches are always placed beside the waterhole to show that it is poisoned.

Acacia Kempeana
Acacia Ligulata

A smoking medicine. Wattle tree 2 - 3 metres tall, generally with a few scattered yellow flowers. Found on sand hills and sand plains. When a man is very sick, dig a hole, place embers and coals in the bottom and cover with a thick layer of branches and leaves so there will be plenty of smoke. Lay the sick man on the branches and cover him with more leaves. The smoke and heat will cause him to sweat profusely, and the sickness comes out in the sweat. A general medicine especially good for dizziness, nerves and fits.

1996 - 2010