Wandering through this renowned plant trail we invite you to admire the following plant species


Bat’s Wing Coral Tree

Erythrina vespertilio

This tree attracts edible frogs and its roots can be chewed to obtain water. Leaves are boiled to provide relief from colds and flu when inhaled. The timber is easy to carve and is used to make coolamons (carrying baskets) and shields. The poisonous red seeds contained in the pods are used to make necklaces.

Beach Hibiscus

Hibiscus tiliaceus

The inner bark is used to make twine, fishing line and nets. Heated leaves are used as wound dressings. Straight stems are used to make spears and to start friction fires. Twigs can also be useful for starting fires in the wet. Flowers can be eaten.

Beach She Oak

Casuarina equisetifolia

Needles from the tree are chewed into a ball to numb toothache. The inner bark is smashed and mixed with water to make a medicine for sore throats which is then gargled and spat out. The timber is used for firewood.

Beach Tamarind

Cupaniopsis anacardioides

The brightly coloured fruit is a yellow capsule which when ripe opens to reveal several shiny black seeds encased in a red fleshy tissue. This red fleshy tissue is eaten raw.

Beach Wattle

Acacia crassicarpa

Timber from the tree is used to make boomerangs and spear tips. Seeds released by the brown pods are roasted and eaten or ground into flour to make seed cakes.

Burdekin Plum

Pleiogynium timorense

The raw fruit is eaten after being buried in the sand for several days to ripen. The bark and roots of the tree can be used as a ‘fish poison’ stunning fish, in order that they float to the surface of the water for easy capture.

Cocky Apple

Planchonia careya

The cocky apple has a wide range of uses. The inner bark of the tree is smashed and mixed with water to make medicine for skin conditions and headaches. The roots and bark of the tree are used as ‘fish poison.’ Timber is used to make boomerangs. Fruit can be eaten raw or roasted. When the tree flowers it provides a signal that it is time to fish for barramundi.

Heart Leaf

Macaranga tanarius

Straight stems are used to start friction fires and to make spears. The red sap from the stems is used as a glue to bind spearheads. The inner bark is used to make twine for nets and to weave baskets. Witchetty grubs are found in the roots of the tree.

Mueller’s Damson

Terminalia muelleri

This tree is also known as an Australian almond or beach damson. The fruit can be eaten raw but has a bitter taste. Leaves are used as bush tobacco.

Native White Mulberry

Pipturus argenteus

The small white fruits hold their seeds on the outside. When ripe, the fruit is eaten raw and has a sweet taste. Large quantities of fruit may be gathered at once by shaking the branches of the tree.

Peanut Tree

Sterculia quadrifida

Seeds require peeling before being eaten raw or cooked; they have a nutty taste. Bark from the tree is used to make twine. Medicine used to treat skin conditions is produced by mixing burned timber with water. Leaves from the tree can be heated and applied to treat marine and insect stings.

Rotten Cheese Fruit

Morinda citrifolia

The foul smelling fruit is eaten raw to treat sore throats, colds and flu. Young leaves and fruit may also be crushed and rubbed on to the chest or inhaled directly. A yellow dye may be extracted for dilly bags.

Sandpaper Fig

Ficus opposita

The rough side of the leaves are used as sandpaper. Figs can be eaten raw when ripe and have a sweet taste. A medicine is made by boiling and straining the inner bark and roots of the tree to treat diarrhoea; this medicine can also be used as an eyewash. When the leaves are soaked in water, a liquid is produced which can be applied to soothe itchy skin conditions.

Screw Palm

Pandanus cookii

A medicine is made by smashing the roots and mixing with water in order to treat scabies. Nuts are usually roasted, but are difficult to extract. The leaves are stripped into fine fibres to make baskets and mesh bags. Leaves can also be used as thatching for shelters.

Sea Almond

Terminalia catappa

Nuts can be eaten after drying out for a few days, but, only if you can get to them before the red-tailed black cockatoos.

Soap Tree

Alphitonia excelsa

Leaves are crushed and rubbed together with water to make soap. The soap can be used to soothe headaches or treat skin ailments. Alternatively, a paste can be made by mixing ash from the burned timber with water. This paste can be easily applied as a skin treatment. Leaves and berries from the tree are used to stun fish for easy capture.

Swamp Tea Tree

Melaleuca dealbata

Sheets of paperbark are waterproof; hence they are commonly used to make shelters and line baskets. The strong timber, which will not rot is used to make tools. Flowers from the tree provide nectar which can be sucked from the flower or made into a sweet drink by immersing in water.


Mangroves found in this area include stilt-rooted; grey; black; yellow; myrtle and blind-your-eye mangroves. Mangroves provide materials for tools, shelter, medicine and food. The grey mangrove is particularly useful for building canoes, spears and boomerangs. Its seeds can also be roasted and ground into flour. The sap from the blind-your-eye mangrove is used to treat marine stings, but can cause blindness if it gets into the eyes.

Photos provided by Greg Calvert

Links and Further Information

North Qld Dry Tropics – Plants of our Region - http://www.nqdrytropics.com.au/plants-our-region

Society for Growing Australian Plants – Townsville - http://www.sgaptownsville.org.au/

James Cook University - Plants on Townsville Campus - http://www-public.jcu.edu.au/discovernature/planttownsville/index.htm

Coastal Dry Tropics Landcare Inc. - http://www.cdtli.org.au/

Atlas of Living Australia - http://www.ala.org.au/

Australian Institute of Marine Science - Lovelock CE (1993) Field guide to the mangroves of Queensland - http://epubs.aims.gov.au/handle/11068/2443



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