Vol. 1 No. 1 (2024)
Research Articles

Wetland Plants and Aboriginal Paludiculture in North- and South-Eastern Australia

Rod Giblett
Honorary Associate Professor of Environmental Humanities, Writing and Literature Program, Deakin University

Published 2024-04-15


  • wetland plants,
  • paludiculture,
  • Aboriginal peoples

How to Cite

Giblett, Rod. 2024. “Wetland Plants and Aboriginal Paludiculture in North- and South-Eastern Australia”. Plant Perspectives 1 (1):96-119. https://doi.org/10.3197/whppp.63845494909708.


Aboriginal peoples in north- and south-eastern Australia practiced paludiculture, the cultivation of wetland plants for consumption, for many thousands of years before Europeans invaded them in the 1830s and 1840s. This article focuses on the yam daisy (Microseris spp.) in south-eastern Australia and the bulkuru sedge (Eleocharis dulcis) in north-eastern Australia in historical and recent accounts of wetlands in both regions. Aboriginal people in both places cultivated and harvested the tubers of both plants. Recent debates about Aboriginal peoples’ cultivation of native plants and whether they constitute agriculture apply the European value-laden yardstick of stages of human development with agriculture as the pinnacle of land use and constitute ‘hunting and gathering’ as lower in a hierarchy of value. They fail to appreciate not only the sophistication of the latter, but also that Aboriginal people cultivated grasses and grains on drylands (agriculture) and yams and sedges in wetlands (paludiculture).


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