Burchardia umbellata

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milkmaids
Burchardia umbellata.jpg
At Anglesea Heath
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Liliales
Family: Colchicaceae
Genus: Burchardia
Species: B. umbellata
Binomial name
Burchardia umbellata
R.Br.[1]

Burchardia umbellata (milkmaids) is a perennial herb native to woodlands and heath of eastern and southern Australia, known in all states except Western Australia. It typically flowers from September until November, in dry sclerophyll forests.[2][3]

Size and shape[edit]

The narrow leaves of Burchardia umbellata are up to 60 cm long by 1.5 to 4 mm wide. Clusters of white or pale pink flowers with reddish centers sit atop a thin stalk that is 50 to 60 cm high.[4] Each flower measures about 2.5 cm wide.[4] There is a cluster of up to ten carrot-shaped tubers at the base, each about 5 mm thick.[5]

Use as food[edit]

Aborigines eat the potato-like tubers.[6] The tubers can be eaten raw or cooked. They are white, fleshy, crisp, and starchy, with a nondescript flavor.[2]

Origin of name[edit]

The genus Burchardia is named for German botanist Johann Heinrich Burckhardt. The species name umbellata is Latin for "umbrella", referring to the umbels of flowers.[4]

Cultivation[edit]

Burchardia umbellata is rarely available in nurseries, but it can be propagated by seed and kept in containers. It requires moist, well-drained soils and sun or light shade.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Burchardia umbellata". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS database. Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government. 
  2. ^ a b Australian Botany Pages. Australian National Botanic Gardens
  3. ^ Morcombe, Michael (1991). Australia's Wildflowers (Réimpr. ed.). Sydney: The Book Company and Ure Smith Press. p. 30. ISBN 0725408731. 
  4. ^ a b c d Burchardia umbellata. Australian Native Plants Society.
  5. ^ Low, T. Wild Food Plants of Australia. 1988. ISBN 0-207-16930-6
  6. ^ Gott, B. Aboriginal Trail. Australian National Botanic Gardens.