A Guide to Indigenous Plants by Zena Cumpston
In 2019, the University of Melbourne was transformed by the breathtaking influx of 40,000 Kulin Nation plants as part of the Indigenous-led event, The Living Pavilion. Bringing together local designers, knowledge holders, artists and scientists, The Living Pavilion’s 60-plus free events explored relationships across Indigenous knowledge systems, ecological science, sustainable design and participatory arts.
Indigenous plants were at the forefront of the Living Pavilion, breathing new life into the Parkville campus whilst also promoting cultural learning and reflection. These plants were accompanied by signs which were carefully researched and curated by Barkandji woman Zena Cumpston, associate producer of the event. Each of these signs explored the plants' cultural, nutritional, technological and medicinal uses from an Indigenous perspective. Zena ensured the plants chosen showcased not only the unique ecologies of the Kulin Nations, but also demonstrated how the plants had been utilised over thousands of generations of careful custodianship.
The plant research was so popular that many participants contacted Zena wanting to access the information. The new 'Indigenous plant use' booklet was created so people could continue learning.
In the booklet below, you'll find information on more than 50 Indigenous plant species displayed on labels which you can print and use in your own garden. The booklet also provides users with guidance on where to find additional resources for creating a healthy Indigenous garden and learning more about Indigenous plants.