Christmas Tree (Moodjar)
Origin: South-Western Australia
Scientific Name: Nuytsia floribunda
Folk Names: Western Australian Christmas tree, fire-tree, flame-tree, cabbage tree
Indigenous (Noongar) Names: Moodjar, moojerool, mungai
Associated Celebrations: SumSol
Magical Properties: Happiness, remembrance, family, compassion, harmony, spirit work, energy
“According to Noongar people, when a person dies, their spirit inhabits a Christmas Tree, so its leaves should be taken inside a house or camp shelter, lest the spirit becomes trapped." - Bush Tucker Plants of the South-West
Some Noongar groups hold this tree as sacred due to the connection with ancestors, believing it to be sacred. They forbid eating or taking from the tree, including picking the flowers, and may even forbid sitting beneath it, and it may be incorporated into various rituals. Different groups have varying level of beliefs, from stating that picking or bringing the flowers inside is fine, but no other uses, or other groups who make use of the bark/wood, gum, flowers, and roots.
- The bark and wood of these trees were used to make shields. The sugary gum that oozes from the wounded tree is also eaten.
- The roots have juicy/succulent edible suckers. These were only eaten when food was scarce, and were only allowed to be dug up by women.
- The flowers can be soaked in water to make a sweet drink from the nectar.
The WA Christmas tree is the world’s largest species of mistletoe: It relies on the root systems of other plants to obtain water and nutrients, and usually attaches its roots to multiple other plants (and has also been found attached to underground cables).
Type: Medium tree
Plant size: up to 10m
Bark: Rough, grey-brown bark
Leaves: Long, narrow leaves, dull to bluish-green
Flowers: Birak: Bright yellow-orange stamen-heavy flowers on inflorescences up to 1m long
Fruit: Dry, brown fruits with light, winged seeds
Etymology: Named “Christmas Tree” due to its vibrant display of flowers around Christmas-time.