top of page

Plant identification guides:
Bush tucker food forest

Information about medicinal qualities of plants, or about their use as medicines, is for interest only, and is not intended to be used as a guide for the treatment of medical conditions.


As with all medicinal applications of Australian bush foods, please do your due diligence and consult with First Nations or other Australian herbal specialists before utilising as a remedy for any condition.


Some parts of the plant may not be edible or some may need preparation before they are safe to eat or use in any way. We do our best to describe their traditional & modern uses. It is the reader’s responsibility to ensure they are fit for their intended use.


We can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Bat’s Wing Coral Tree

Scientific name:

Other Names:

Erythrina vespertilio

Grey Corkwood, Yulbah, Bean Tree, Sturt Bean Tree, Ininti, cork tree, hielaman tree


Fabaceae (Legume family)

Bat’s Wing Coral Tree

Basic info:

Growing anywhere between 6 to 12 metres in height, this deciduous tree has a smooth corky grey-brown bark and thorns appearing on the trunk and branches. It has small spectacular red flowers with bat-winged shaped leaves.

Its habitat includes open forest and woodland, shrubland, rocky gorges, and arid arid regions. Found throughout the state of Queensland up to Cape York, down to the far northern part of NSW, far northern part of Western Australia and Northern Territory, and the arid heart of Central Australia.

Between July and November, while the tree is temporarily leafless, 3 – 4 cm long, red pea-type flowers hang from the tree in long racemes. The flowers are followed by dark brown, narrow pods about 12 cm in length, constricted around the seeds. The bean-shaped seeds in the pod ripen from April to June.

The flowers and nectar attract many birds. Native bees use both the pollen from the flowers and the resin from the pods and damaged bark.

Uses and Interesting Information:

The seeds are not edible (they are poisonous).

The root system can be dug up and drained of drinkable water and if you strip the outer bark the roots can be chewed for moisture. Leaves are boiled to provide relief from colds and flu when inhaled. The tree also attracts edible frogs.

“Indigenous people used the timber for shields and the seeds for necklaces. Roots were eaten raw, a decoction of the leaves was apparently used as a sedative, and bark soaked in water was used to treat sore eyes and headaches.” (from R Melzer & J Plumb (2007), Plants of Capricornia, Rockhampton: Belgamba, p140)

Indigenous jewelry making: The seeds are collected and then dried out, a hole is then burnt though the middle of each seed, then left to air out. In old times, the seeds were strung together on hand-spun string made from human hair, but these days Indigenous jewellery makes use wool, string or elastic. The seeds, which come in a range of colours including deep reds, browns, oranges and creams, are often mixed with other seeds such as gumnuts and quangdong seeds, making beautiful jewellery pieces. In old times, they were worn in lengthy harnesses over one shoulder, across the chest and under the arms, and often used in ceremony. They were also wound around the head to form headbands to hold feather headdresses in place, or attached to strands of hair as an adornment.

The wood (when dry) is easy to carve and was used to make many items, such as spear-throwers, shields, water carrying vessels and bowls.

In early settler times, the wood was used for polo balls and for making floats for fishing nets, hence the name ‘corkwood’ was sometimes used.



bottom of page