Plants of the wetland

Learn why plants are important to a wetland, and how some of them were used by indigenous people for food, fibre and medicine. Features Dr Beth Gott, Honorary Research Fellow, who tells us the Edithvale-Seaford wetlands has 87 plant species that have records of Aboriginal use.

This is one of six educational wetlands videos featuring the Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands in Victoria, Australia.

5 September 2017
Audio described version


Narrator – N1

Speaker 2 – S2 (Beth Gott)


N1: Melbourne Water looks after many natural and man-made wetlands across Melbourne and plants play such an important role in these wetlands!

[on-screen text: Plants of the Wetlands]

N1: Here at the Edithvale-Seaford wetlands, Beth talks about the plants and particularly, how they were used by aboriginal people.

[on-screen text: Beth Gott, Monash University Honorary Research Fellow]

S2: Plants, of course, are those other living things that we share with this planet! Because they grow well when they have plenty of water, you will find a wide variety of plants in wetlands.

N1: Not only do they ensure a healthy environment with all their different species, but plants also work to filter the water in a wetland, and provide habitat and food for all the animals that live there.

S2: There are at least 87 different plants in this wetlands which have records of aboriginal use. The wetlands provided plants that they could use for food, and for fibre, and also for medicine.

[on-screen text: Water Ribbons (Triglochin procerum)]

This, for example is one of the plants that provided tubers for people to eat. Most of these were cooked in an earth oven.

[on-screen text: Pigface (Disphyma crassifolium)]

Pigface always grows around the edges of swamps. People used the leaves of pigface because they’re salty, to eat with meat. Also when the flowers dry up, you get nice sweet fruits.

[on-screen text: Basket sedge (Carex tereticaulis)]

This plant is also found around the Carrum Carrum swamp. It would certainly have been used by the local women for baskets. But if you try to break it, you will find that it is extremely strong.

[on-screen text: Old Man Weed (Centipeda cunninghamii)]

Plants have always been used for medicines, and this particular one they call ‘Old Man Weed’. All Victorian aborigines remember this as an important medicine plant. They say they use it for everything.

[on-screen text: Old Man Weed (Centipeda cunninghamii) – fever, wounds, headache, colds]

N1: Wow! Who’d of thought you could actually live off some of the plants in this wetland? Have a look around and see if you can see any of the ones Beth talked about.

[Melbourne Water logo; `Tagline – ‘Helping keep our wetlands full of healthy plants’]