A Very Short List of Native and Imported Plants in Hahndorf  -  circa 1839

Used as food, medicine or evidence of cultural transfer from Europe.

Compiled by Anni Luur Fox since 1980  -  Chair, Hahndorf Branch, National Trust of SA.  (dated August 2011)

Peramangk Plant Foods at Bukatilla

Bukatilla, renamed Hahndorf in 1839 by early German settlers in 1839.  Christian Liebelt and Christian Jaensch’s comments regarding the initial use of native plants by Lutheran immigrants to stave off starvation in the early village, were published in Adelaide newspapers in the 19th Century.  The plants in the lily, orchid and yam daisy fields introduced to them by Peramangk women who regularly made a meal of the tasty vegetables underground, gradually disappeared as the settlers cleared the land for European crops.  The colonial botanist Baron von Mueller who first came to South Australia and later established the Melbourne Botanic Gardens, recommended that the yam daisy be introduced to Europe as a vegetable.  It had been a staple food of Aboriginal people throughout south eastern Australia until hoofed animals dug them up as they grazed.  Native currents were also introduced to the settlers who braved the spiky leaves to pick small brownish fruits to make jam that tasted like cranberry or black current jam.  Wild cranberries were another source of jam for the settlers.

The following list has been compiled from a variety of sources:

  • Blue Grass Lily Caesia vittata roots
  • Black-boy, Grass-tree, Yacca Xanthorrhoea pithy base of leaves
  • Bulbine Lily Bulbine bulbosa slender bulb
  • Bulrush Typha boiled new shoots
  • Chocolate Lily Dichopogon strictum, D.fimbriatus tubers
  • Early Nancy/Blackman’s Potato Wurmbea (was ‘anguillaria’)dioca small bulb
  • Golden Wattle Acacia pycnantha gum, cossid larvae
  • Native Cranberry Astroloma humifuson greenish fruit
  • Native Currant Acrotriche depressa pink-purple fruit
  • Milkmaids Burchardia umbellate roots
  • Pink Fairies Caladenia latifolia tubers
  • Pink Fingers Caladenia catenata sweet, juicy tubers
  • Running Postman Kennedia prostrate tea
  • Spider Orchid Caladenis dilate tubers
  • Sun Orchids Thelymitra rubra, pauciflora, nuda tubers
  • Wax-lip Orchid Glossidia major watery, sweet tuber
  • Yam Daisy Microseris scapigera, lanceolata roasted tubers

Pastor Kavel's Advice to Prospestive Immigrants (August 1839)

  • Don’t listen to doctors.  Bring a medicine chest.
  • Sufficient wine for 1 nobbler a day.
  • Brandy mixed with Vermouth extract (from the French and Old German word ‘wermut’ ie wormwood).
  • China preparation:  Cinchona officinalis ie Peruvian Bark., used for debility from loss of bodily fluids due to darrhoea, sweating profusely, lossof blood, moist gangrene, nocturnal emissions, dropsy.
  • Bitters to assist digestion.
  • Large quantity of rice to mix with flour for bread.  Imported flour was very expensive.
  • Seeds:  Spoonwort for scurvy, Centaury to enliven appetite,  Camomile,  St John’s Wort,  Elder,  Wormwood,  Hops,  Hampseed (for string-making).

Eleanore Nitschke's Book of Remedies  -  Lists:

  • Calendula officinales Ruta graveolens
  • Cannabis Sambucus nigra: Elder
  • Chamomilla vulgaris Symhytum officinale: comfrey
  • Crocus Thuja: Lebensbaum
  • Daphne indica Valerian officinalis
  • Digitalis purpurea Vinca minor
  • Helleborus niger Viola tricolor
  • Opium Aconite
  • Pulsatilla Belladonna
  • Ranunculus sleratus Bryonia alba

Significant Trees in Hahndorf of Old Prussian (Baltic) and Germanic Symbolic Origin

  • Cypress trees in St Michael’s Lutheran churchyard. In pre-Christian Old Prussia and northern Germany conical trees marked the places where communities met, junipers or yew trees.
  • Sacred Oaks
  • Elders
  • Linden, pine, spruce, juniper, willow, southernwood, ash were considered effective against evil spirits.
  • Bay Laurel deterred witches.
  • Myrtle was carried in wedding bouquets and then planted in the new home garden.  If it took root the marriage would be blessed.
  • Apple and pear trees brought out in the ship 'Zebra'.

Palm trees planted as a symbol of Christ’s death and resurrection in churchyard.

Plants Grown at Wotzke Cottage

(when Walter Wotzke was a Boy)

  • Mangel Wurzel,
  • Kale for cows Polly, Molly and Dolly.
  • Tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, lettuces, onions, radishes, cabbages, beans, spinach, broccoli, turnips.
  • The Wotzke family was self-sufficient during the Depression.  The cows milk and products were a source of income as well as sustenance.
  • The grew sweetwater grapes, gooseberries, pie cherries, prunes, mulberries, quinces, walnuts, pears, apples and plums.  They made jam.
  • The three sons sold mushrooms they found in the hills, wattlegum and rabbits.

Geraniums were very popular with Hahndorf residents who grew them in kerosene cans on their cottage verandahs.

Native Vegetation, Arbury Park  -  Aboriginal and Early European Uses

(Information provided by Philip Clarke to Reg Butler April 1991)

  • Acacias - seeds as food, but more in the desert regions of Australia
  • Bark- provide shelter from rain while on a journey. People lay on bark to protect themselves against frost while asleep in winter nights.
  • Bracken - roots for food, but not so popular in the Adelaide Hills
  • Black Boy - soak in water to make sweet liquid for drinking purposes
  • Bulrushes - seeds for food & reedy part for string
  • Eucalyptus seed - source of food, but not so much in the Adelaide Hills
  • Juncacea (has a brown flower) - for baskets and bundling
  • Native cherry - wood had spiritual properties; therefore, not to be burnt. The fruit as a food.
  • Native honeysuckle - soak flowers in water to provide sweetened liquid for drinking purposes
  • Reeds - manufacture of spears
  • Sedge - baskets made to carry food and bodies (need plenty of sun to grow)
  • Stringybark flowers - nectar to suck
  • Thistles - stem of the young plant for food. Thistle milk to treat cuts and abrasions
  • Tree resin - cement to keep blades etc in place
  • Wattle - gum eaten as a restorative while travelling - has no taste.
  • Yabbies - source of food