Page:Ethnological studies (Roth).djvu/116

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Another grass similar to the katoora, but much larger, is the ya-ka-pa-ri (Sporobolus Lindleyi, Benth.): its seeds are prepared by an identical process.

108. The seed of the coolibar (Eucalyptus bicolor, A. Cunn.) also constitutes a staple article of diet, when grass-seed is scarce: locally it is known as ka-ra-pa-ri. With a hooked stick some terminal branches of this tree are pulled down and, just as they are, spread out to dry on a piece of ground cleared for the purpose. Here they lie, according to the heat of the sun, for half-a-day, a day, till sunset, or the following morning. The ends of the branches are then all collected together, and the seed obtained by damping the distal extremities and brushing them off into water, as in the case of the katoora. Before the ultimate drying, however, the coolibar seed is kept for a couple of hours or so in water, which during this time is repeatedly changed, so as to remove all traces of the "gum." After being ground on the pappa-stone it is eaten raw.

109. The "pig-weed" (Portulaca oleracea, Linn.), the koo-ni of this district may be eaten raw in its entirety, its taste very much resembling water-cress, or only its seed used. This latter is obtained by taking a goodly-sized bunch and rubbing it between the two hands held more or less horizontally (Fig. 219), the seeds dropping into a koolamon, and subjected to washing and grinding as before. It is eaten raw.

110. The hard-shelled seed of the "nardoo" (Marsilea), easily and speedily collected from the plant when growing in marshy swamps, is pounded and broken up with a special stone, the "nardoo"-stone (sect. 155), previous to grinding.

111. In the Cloncurry District, among the Mitakoodi, the jil-groo-bur-i (Sporobulus indicus, R. Br.), closely allied to the katoora and yakapari of the Boulia District, is prepared by similar process. Pig-weed, known as tun-ga-ra or tal-lo (Woonamurra ya-ma-ri, Goa kun-go-yj), and a species of "star-grass" called tin-dil (Panicum decompositum, R. Br.) are also treated the same, but neither nardoo nor coolibar seed is eaten up here. "Wild-rice" or mo-ko-mur-do (Oryza sativa, Linn.), is prepared as follows:—After gathering, when the seeds are ripened, it is tied up in bundles and dried (sect. 86): the heads of these bundles are beaten on a piece of ti-tree bark, and the seeds falling out are collected and winnowed, subsequently ground, and cooked like a damper. The seeds of the water-lily, too-lum-bool, and of the Portulaca napiformis, F. v. M., or ka-re-dil-la, are also eaten, but, as their roots are more commonly partaken of, these plants will be referred to in sect. 114.

112. In the Leichhardt-Selwyn District, the Kalkadoon eat various forms of grass-seed under the name of kun-yel: pig-weed, or poon-jo, and the wild-rice are also common dietaries.

113. The following are some of the Edible Roots met with in the Boulia District:—The wi-too-ka or win-nu (Boerhaavia diffusa, Linn.), a peppery sort of small "yam," something like a radish, is found everywhere, is pretty brittle, and has to be plucked out of the ground somewhat carefully (sects. 85, 86) to prevent snapping: it is eaten roasted. Other yams, ka-la-ra, are dug up with a special stick (sect. 158) and eaten cooked or uncooked. The root of a species of waterlily, pe-ta-bur-i, known to me as growing at Wandetta and Idamea Lakes, on portions of the Burke River, on Tooleybuck Station and elsewhere, tastes not unlike a potato after roasting. Mung-a-roo is the root of a kind of "nut-grass" growing to a height of about 6 inches from the ground on soft sandy flats, having knobby or almost globular roots about one-sixth of an inch and more in diameter; the husks are removed ordinarily by a rolling between the fore-finger and thumb (sect. 86) or occasionally between the open hand and the thigh: eaten raw or roasted.

114. In the Cloncurry District, the Mitakoodi also eat several kinds of roots, either roasted or raw. There are two species of edible waterlily root, the one, un-dul, with a smooth-surfaced root, the other, tin-da, with a hairy surface: it is the seed, too-lum-bool, of the former variety only (sect. 111) which is eaten. Among yams, four at least are relished: the short-rooted ma-la-ga (Vigna lanceolata, Benth.), and a long-rooted one, wol-le, growing on sandy ground; a third variety,