'MURNONG' - YAM DAISY (Microseris scapigera) Seeds
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Microseris scapigera is a yellow-flowered daisy with edible tuberous roots, a perennial herb, found in New Zealand and Australia it is the only New Zealand species of Microseris and one of three Australian species known as murnong, ngampa or yam daisy along with Microseris walteri and Microseris lanceolata. Now rare and vulnerable due to loss of habitat.
It is found in many forms in southern and eastern Australia, mostly from basalt plains of western Victoria and elevated sites in Tasmania. The flower is a yellow head of florets, reminiscent of a dandelion.
This species of Murnong was the main staple food for the Wurundjeri Aboriginals until the mid-1840s, when the introduction of sheep rendered the yam virtually extinct. Though they’re rare in the wild, you may still spot them growing in bushlands in Victoria, NSW and the ACT.
Tubers start forming in mid-summer beneath clumps of dandelion-like flowers. When the plant flowers in Autumn, the tuber roots are ready for harvest.
The plant usually grows a single tuber each season. There is a wide variation in shape and size of tubers between plants from different habitats in the Victoria. Those from northwest Victoria have probably the longest tubers. A rare form from the volcanic plain (Woorndoo area) has a stocky, sometimes few-branched, but apparently perennial tap-root.
The plant is quick growing, and likes full sun to part shade. Will do well in most soil types, and is drought and frost tolerant, but good care will ensure better growth.
Bush food: Murnong was prepared by roasting or pit baking; the taste is described as "sweet with a flavour of coconut".
May be eaten raw or baked, in salads, mixed with other vegetables, or turned into a paste for desserts. The bitterness in Microseris scapigera roots can be removed by blanching the roots in boiling water for 5 minutes, before consumption or further cooking.
The slightly bitter leaves are also edible.
Germination: Sow in autumn to early winter, as hot weather limits germination, and sow on the soil surface, a small sprinkle of sand or seed raising mix over the top of the seed will help it not be blown away. Germinates in a couple of weeks
Video credit Plant HeroesMurnong; saving Yam Daisy on Melbourne's Merri Creek