sagg (Lomandra longifolia)
Tasmanian Aborigines placed a high value on this hardy perennial plant. Besides it being a rich source for food, medicine and a wide variety of practical uses, it also indicated a good place to find small animals for eating.
The leaves were used by Aboriginal people to make baskets, necklaces and arm bands, while the tender leaf bases were eaten. The flowers made a tasty nectar drink and the seeds – which stay on the plant most of the year – were ground into flour. The roots were used for treating insect stings.
Early Europeans had no use for it, although today it is a popular garden plant. Its roots are also good for binding soil.
Sagg has separate male and female plants.
Sagg provides habitat for white-spot skipper butterflies, and its heavily scented nectar lures pollinating beetles. It's a good nesting site for superb fairy-wrens and brown thornbills, and also attracts green rosellas. It provides habitat for bandicoots, skinks and snakes, but its spines deter other animals.
(Photos: Steve Harris, Fiona Rice, Tim Rudman)
STUDENT INQUIRY QUESTION
Aboriginal people made baskets out of sagg. What might they have carried in them?
Try plaiting or weaving using sagg leaves.