Telopea speciosissima

Common Name: Waratah

Transcript of Aunty Fran Bodkin explaining the uses of Telopea speciosissima:

Telopea speciosissima, this is my favourite plant. The nectar could be gathered – (it) was gathered during the day and it could be used as a food for young babies, more particularly babies who can’t take any kind of milk including mother’s milk. When my son was born he was very premature and he could not take any kind of milk and he still can’t take any kind of milk and he’s forty now. I fed him completely on Telopea Speciosissima nectar and also the nectar of the Banksia when the telopeas went off their flowering and he’s healthy you’ve seen him, he’s beautifully healthy and he’s survived things other kids were not able to survive.

The sap is used to heal burns; it is a traditional, very, very old traditional method. You just milk the sap by cutting a small gash in the stem, you milk the sap and you spread it over burns.

We used the stems of the waratah to weave baskets in which to carry our fire because we didn’t make fire, we carried it. You see we had a thing called the waran, ‘the black rock that burns’ and we would pick it up from the valleys where we were and then it was put into the skull of a wombat and lit and then covered with sand or ash so that it became just burning embers and we would carry that to our next camping place where we would start the fire. It was a very effective way of travelling with fire without having the danger of bushfires.