The Murnong or Yam Daisy is a species of tuberous plants that were once spread across south-eastern Australia. One could not go a few yards without seeing one, with the large, potato-like tuber becoming the key food in many Aboriginal People's diets prior to colonization.
Murnong plants were consumed in large quantities by Aboriginal Australians prior to the British colonization of the continent, with the murnong playing a significant role in feeding communities across many parts of the country.
The history we have of the plant comes from written accounts from European explorers and colonizers. In 1841, George Augustus Robinson said:
"Today the native women were spread out over the plain as far as I could see them, collecting punimim, murrnong, a privilege they would not be permitted except under my protection. I inspected their bags and baskets on their return and each had a load as much as they could carry. They burn the grass, the better to see those roots but this burning is a fault charged against them by squatters."
As early as 1803, European accounts detailed the murnong as an important food for Aboriginal People, with imagery of a hilly landscape dotted with them like a field with dandelions.
This drawing by J. H. Wedge (1835) shows women digging roots of the Yam Daisy.
Collection: State Library of Victoria
From widespread, to endangered
The Three Species
There are three known species of murnong, with each having different tuber sizes and growth habits. For growing as a food plant, we suggest microseris walteri or microseris scapigera. Microseris walteri has the best flavour, followed by scapigera.
- Single fleshy root
- Long, tapered root
- Several cylindrical or long-tapered
- Cold regions
Part shade/full sun
Planting in pots
Planting in soil
Murnongs tolerate all soil conditions except high saline soil.
Dig a hole the same size as the tube your murnong arrives in. Break up the soil at the base of the planting hole. Mix in compost and slow releasing native plant fertilizer. Ensure the soil level of the plant is slightly higher than the ground to allow for sinkage. Water well with liquid compost or seaweed.
Planting from seed
A murnong plant alone is expensive if you don't use it's seeds to grow new, delicious tubers.