Dead finish

Ark of taste
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Acacia tetragonophylla locally known as dead finish is a tree native to Australia. It took its name after extreme hardiness. In the very worst of climatic conditions, it is the last tree standing, when all others have perished through lack of water. It is therefore a very important plant for people of the Central Australian desert. Besides culinary uses, Aboriginal people used dead finish as a wart remover.

The Dead finish is a loose branched shrub to 3m with narrow sharp-pointed leaves clustered on the branches. The leaves are soft when young but as they mature become sharp and tough. Its flowers are yellow and spherical shaped. It produces edible seeds, though often not in large quantities and edible grubs can be found in its roots. The plant usually grown on floodplains and along watercourses in arid and semi-arid areas

The Dead finish is fire intolerant, so any change in fire management from the tens of thousands of years of indigenous fire-cultivation is detrimental to its existence. This is already a rare plant and continued colonial dispossession of traditional knowledge and practice will further threaten its existence. The land management techniques practiced by indigenous people indeed involve fire, an element that has a crucial role in many aspects of these communities’ lives (environmental, social, cultural, spiritual…). Using controlled fires, a knowledge that is gradually lost, enabled for example to prevent hot incontrollable wildfires to develop, and helped biodiversity and the land to regenerate.

The seeds of Dead Finish are collected and usually ground into a paste which is then baked in the hot coals. When green, the seeds are more usually cooked in the pod. Like the witchetty bush, edible grubs are often found in the tree’s roots.

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New South Wales

Other info


Fruit, nuts and fruit preserves

Indigenous community:Each of the seven indigenous language groups within Central Australia
Nominated by:Louise Woo/Slow Food Hunter Valley