Gardenia pyriformis

A widespread Kimberley species, extending deep into the Great Sandy Desert, this small tree or shrub has scented white flowers, and a fruit with grey flat seeds embedded in the pulp. Sometimes called the Turpentine Tree, for the colour of the trunk.Gardenia pyriformis fr Gardenia pyriformis2 Gardenia pyriformis Gardenia pyramidalis3

Gardenia pyriformis

This species has a number of uses by people on the Dampier peninsula:

Wudarr is another small tree, with little white flowers that later become a hard ribbed fruit. The large, divided sepals that remain at the end of the fruit are very distinctive. The mayi consists of many seeds embedded within a flesh that is covered by hard skin. When it turns yellow in June it can be picked or gathered from the ground. The flesh inside is squeezed out and eaten.

Bardi people, who are dependent on the sea for food, have a special use for this tree. They place green leaves on a rock and rub their feet on them. The effect is like that of a balm, giving some protection against cuts from the reef and stonefish stings.

The Karajarri people use the leaves in a similar way, first chewing them and rubbing the mixture on the soles of their feet for protection when walking on the hot sands of their country. Wudarr is also a medicinal plant. The Bard people use it to make an infusion, which they apply to aches and sores or drink for “cold-sick.”

About Tom Harley

Amateur ecologist and horticulturalist and CEO of Kimberley Environmental Horticulture Inc. (Tom Harley)
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