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Plant of the day: Atriplex nummelaria “old man salt bush”

Atriplex nummularia the most commonly utilised shrubs in Australia and is mostly cultivated for stock feed. This is due to its propensity to survive in harsh environments subject to flooding, drought and high levels of salinity, as well as being palatable to livestock due to the elevated mineral content of the plant.

The seeds from the plant are a traditional food source for many Australian Aboriginal communities, both consuming them on their own and as a component of meals. A. nummularia is also used as a windbreak, stock shade, crop shelter-belt,screen or hedge, firebreak, erosion control and soil binder particularly for stabilising sand dunes as well as rehabilitating eroded or scorched soils.

Grubs found in the roots were eaten either raw or roasted by Noongar people, and the leaves and roots were mashed and boiled with water, to bathe skin sores wounds and burns, while early settlers reportedly drank the same decoction to treat scurvy.

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