Youlk

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Youlk (Platysace deflexa) is a native root that grows in the sandy soil in southwest Australia. It strongly resembles a potato or large radish, golden in colour with a thick skin. It stays crunchy even after cooking, with a refreshing flavour. It is an important food for the Noongar, even if its availability was quite compromised by massive deforestation following European settlement. One single plant produces several roots. Only a few can be harvested at a time, allowing the soil to regenerate. This way the youlk can be harvested all year.

It is a rich source of carbohydrates and this is also why it has been important to the Noongar diet for a long time. However, because of deforestation, concentration of land owners and legislation that prevents wild food gathering, today it is not easily accessible to the natives.

Over the past few years, as part of measures to accommodate the native population, regulations to collect youlk (and other edible and medicinal plants) have been changed, but only for cultural reasons. It is even more difficult to find: more than a third of the deforested land was designated for salt production, ancient trees with deep roots were removed and replaced with other species.

The southwestern part of Australia is rich in biodiversity and youlk is important to maintaining the ecosystem. The changes in diet introduced by the European colonists was recognised as a contributing factor to a few diseases which have reduced the Noongar’s life expectancy.

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Territory

StateAustralia
Region

Western Australia

Other info

Categories

Vegetables and vegetable preserves

Indigenous community:Noongar community
Nominated by:Vincenzo Velletri