Economic Botany

, Volume 67, Issue 3, pp 210–224 | Cite as

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

  • Owen Powell
  • Roderick J. Fensham
  • Paul Memmott

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 



The authors would like to acknowledge Theresa Chelepy-Roberts of the Queensland Museum for providing assistance as well as access to the Museum’s database, archives and collection of Indigenous artifacts. The author’s would also like to acknowledge Hiedi Pitman for comments on our manuscript and practical advice in terms of spinifex resin manufacture.

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Owen Powell
    • 1
  • Roderick J. Fensham
    • 2
    • 3
  • Paul Memmott
    • 4
  1. 1.Centre for Spatial Environmental Research, School of Geography Planning and Environmental ManagementUniversity of QueenslandSt. LuciaAustralia
  2. 2.Queensland HerbariumToowongAustralia
  3. 3.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of QueenslandSt. LuciaAustralia
  4. 4.Aboriginal Environments Research Centre, Institute for Social Sciences and School of ArchitectureUniversity of QueenslandSt. LuciaAustralia

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