KURRAJONGS are a diverse and fascinating group of plants.
There are around 30 different species found across Australia, and our northern specimens, brachychiton paradoxum, or red-flowered kurrajong, and brachychiton diversifolius, or northern kurrajong, could not be more different from one another.
The northern kurrajong is a tall and stately-looking tree, and tends towards the lollipop shape of a childs drawing.
It is a handy addition to the paddock, as it casts lots of shade.
Over the wetter months, the little red-flowered kurrajong has large, hairy and almost circular leaves that are quite decorative.
Unfortunately, these quickly start to look raggedy and yellow after the wet season rain, and the tree has usually lost all of its leaves by May.
In the dry season, it looks a little like a straggly stick.
It is the strawberry-coloured flowers that are the standout feature of this odd plant.
Looking like small trumpets randomly attached to dead twigs, these appear during the driest of times.
The red-flowered kurrajong is a useful plant.
The seeds, roots, bark and gum are all used in different ways by people across the Top End.
Some parts are eaten, some are used for string and fishing line, and some are used as fire sticks.
There is, however, one extremely important thing that we must all remember when we think about how people use plants.
Traditional plant use is based on thousands of years of accumulated knowledge, and knowing what is safe to eat or to use for medicine should be left to the experts.
The seeds of the red-flowered kurrajong are delicious, however, they are covered in sharp, dangerous hairs and should be treated with extreme caution when handled.
Always be careful when handling Australian native plants.
Many have adapted to live in hot, dry environments, and most use hairs, toxins, hard coatings or rough bark to protect themselves from the environment and predators.
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