Home' String of Springs : String of Springs Contents Plants
A. Mulga wattle (Acacia aneura)
You will see lots of mulga trees along the length
of the track. Sometimes they occur as single
trees along watercourses on gibber plains. Or
they grow in communities on the sand dunes
with sandhill wattles, sennas (formerly cassias),
eremophilas and dead finish trees or as denser
plantations as at Hermit Hill.
Mulga had a number of uses for Aboriginal
people. They used the timber to make digging
sticks, boomerangs, shields and spears. It was also
an important food source. Seeds were collected,
roasted and ground into a nutritious paste similar
in texture and taste to peanut butter. They also
cooked the paste in the coals as ‘damper’. The
lerp scale makes a tasty honey-like substance and
edible insect galls (mulga ‘apples’) on the trees
contain nutritious edible grubs.
Europeans find the colourful timber excellent for
timbercraft and early pastoralists used it for fence
posts. Mulga survives the harshest of climatic
conditions, but not fire. Rabbits strip the bark
seeking moisture in dry times, and cattle graze it
when there is little else offering.
B. Sandhill wattle (Acacia ligulata)
This bright green shrub often grows in dense
stands on dunes, swales, sandy plains and also
around salt lakes. Sandhill wattle has a fairly short
lifespan (10-25 years). Whole populations die
within a few years of each other and are then
replaced following the next major rainfall event.
Stock rarely graze this plant.
C. Native apricot
Look for this tree with a drooping habit. It either
stands alone or as a parent plant surrounded
by a number of young plants on the plains or
along smaller watercourses in gibber country. It is
hardy and drought-resistant and produces bitter,
inedible, orange, olive-shaped fruits. Aboriginal
people ground the seeds into a poultice that
they applied externally to relieve stomach pains
or cramps. The oil coating the seed is said to be
useful for rubbing into sore muscles and sprains.
From a distance you might confuse it with the
native plum which grows in the same habitats
and has a similar shape and drooping foliage.
Good examples are at Poole Creek and 99 km
D. Native plum
The plum, although unrelated to the native
apricot, is very similar in appearance. Its dark
rough bark is a distinguishing feature. It is related
to the quandong and sandalwood and all three
are root parasites. So it is not unusual to see
a native plum growing together with another
shrub. You’ll see it with a dead finish tree (Acacia
tetragonophylla) near the dam you pass on
Anna Creek Station, about 2km north of William
Creek. They sucker readily too. So look for them
growing in small clusters at various points along
the track. The ripe fruits are small, deep-purple
and are sweet and juicy, but have little flesh.
It has a number of uses aside from being an
important food. The kernels were sometimes
roasted and ground into a paste by Aboriginal
people or they used the ground fresh kernels as
a medical linament. They also boiled the bark in
water and then used it to help fight coughs and
E. Dead finish
This extremely slow-
growing spiny tree is
scattered in numerous
locations along the
often close to the
road. It has one of
the hardest of Australian native timbers, after the
endangered waddy tree (Acacia peuce) and the
red mulga or mineritchie (Acacia cyperophylla)
found further north.
Its common name probably comes from the fact
that when it defoliates in dry times it looks quite
dead and is one of the last plants to die in a
drought. The dense nature of its prickly branches
makes it an excellent refuge for small birds such
as nesting zebra finches. One dead finish bush
might host up to 20 separate zebra finch nests.
Look for the bush and these little birds in the
Algebuckina Bridge area.
Except in extremely dry times stock generally stay
away from the spiny foliage, whereas camels and
goats are not so choosy. The seeds were ground
and eaten by Aboriginal people who also used its
colourful timber for artefacts.
F. Sandhill canegrass
When you are travelling along the swales in
sandhill country look for the large clumps
of perennial sandhill canegrass growing on
the sides of the dunes. This tough grass is
very drought-resistant and a valuable sandhill
stabiliser. In dry times the above-ground parts
die right back taking on a blue/grey hue. They
become dormant and can remain so for years
while the root systems survive underground.
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