Economic Botany

, Volume 67, Issue 3, pp 210-224

First online:

Indigenous Use of Spinifex Resin for Hafting in North-Eastern Australia

  • Owen PowellAffiliated withCentre for Spatial Environmental Research, School of Geography Planning and Environmental Management, University of Queensland Email author 
  • , Roderick J. FenshamAffiliated withQueensland HerbariumSchool of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland
  • , Paul MemmottAffiliated withAboriginal Environments Research Centre, Institute for Social Sciences and School of Architecture, University of Queensland

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Indigenous Use of Spinifex Resin for Hafting in North-Eastern Australia

Resins and gums were an important resource for Indigenous Australians and were commonly used to haft stone blades to timber handles in the manufacture of axes, spears, knives, and adzes. Based on archival research, analysis of museum records and in situ field trials, we reconstruct the geography of historic spinifex resin use as well as other plant exudates in Queensland, eastern Australia. Results indicated that spinifex resin use was probably restricted to the semi-arid zone and north of the Tropic of Capricorn. Toward the coast and in subhumid and tropical areas, a variety of tree exudates were used. By adopting an interdisciplinary approach coupling archival research with field data, this study contributes to a better understanding of traditional plant use in Australia.

Key Words

Spinifex resin gum hafting adhesives