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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.

Blue tongue

Scientific name:

Other Names:

Melastoma affine (recently reclassified, in Queensland, as Melastoma malabithricum) 

Native lasiandra, black mouth bush



Blue tongue

Basic info:

This is a shrub that usually grows along the margins of rainforests, and can be found growing wild in the Kimberley region of WA, across the Northern Territory and Queensland, and as far south as Kempsey on the New South Wales coast. It is also native to other parts of South-east Asia and India.

They are also found on creek margins, in swamps and near the coast in wetland conditions.

It is a fast growing, evergreen shrub that grows to about 2m in height; it has leathery, dark green foliage covered in fine hairs, contrasting with red stems. It produces no nectar, but plenty of pollen, and will attract bees, butterflies, and other native insects.

Blue Tongue flowers continually throughout Spring and Summer, producing beautiful mauve to purple flowers that last just a few days before small, blue-black fruit begin to appear. The fruit split open to reveal red to purple flesh with numerous small seeds.

When eaten, the flesh stains the hands and mouth, which is where the common name of Blue Tongue derives, and lots of fun for kids.

The fruit is eaten by native birds, which is the main method of seed dispersal.

It is important as a pioneer species.

The flowers are pollinated in the wild by carpenter bees - the Giant Carpenter Bee and the Metallic Green Carpenter Bee - they grab hold of the stamen (the bit that holds the pollen) and give it a good shake; this is called “buzz pollination”.

European Honey Bees can't 'buzz pollinate' - they don't have the ability or technique to vibrate their wings while clasping the stamen. So, they can only gather pollen if it has been already released onto the petals. Because they collect and store it quite deliberately, they don't get covered in pollen and so don't cross-pollinate the flowers like the carpenter bees.

The name derives from the Greek melas meaning ‘black’ and stoma meaning ‘mouth’).

Uses and Interesting Information:

The berries can be picked and eaten directly off the shrub. The fruit is sometimes sweet, sometimes bitter.

Young leaves and shoots can be eaten cooked or raw and have a pleasant sourness.

Different parts of the plant have been used throughout the world for their medicinal properties including remedies for wounds, toothache and stomach ache, dysentery and diarrhea.

The plant contains bioactive compounds with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and antimicrobial properties.

Every part of this plant has medicinal properties and has been used in traditional medicine throughout South-east Asia:


  • Leaves are chewed up, pounded, and applied as paste on cuts or wounds or finely chopped up and squeezed to apply the juice onto the wound to stop bleeding;

  • Leaves are used to prevent scarring from smallpox, to treat dysentery, diarrhoea, piles, and as a tonic;

  • Leaves are also useful to treat ulcers, gastric ulcers, scar, pimple, and black spot at skin;

  • Combination of leaves and roots in powder form is applied to wounds and pox scars to aid the healing process or used to relieve the discomfort of hemorrhoids;

  • Powdered leaves alone is used as astringent for dysentery;

  • Juice of leaves and roots is used as a digestive aid;

  • Combination of leaves and flowers is used in the treatment of cholera, diarrhoea, prolonged fever, dysentery, leucorrhoea, wounds, and skin diseases and for the preparation of gargles;

  • Combination of leaves and flowers is used as astringent in leukorrhea and chronic diarrhea


  • Roots are used as mouthwash to relieve a toothache and to treat epilepsy;

  • Roots are used to alleviate rheumatism, arthritis, and tenderness in the legs;

  • Decoction of roots is used to treat diarrhea;

  • Juice of roots is applied to lessen the soreness due to thrush in children;

  • Combination of roots and leaves in a form of decoction or roots alone are used to tone up; the uterus after childbirth in order to strengthen the womb and accelerate wound healing, reduce excessive menstrual bleeding and cramps, relieve postmenstrual syndrome, stomach ache, and white discharge, and enhance fertility.


  • Flowers are used as a nervous sedative and for hemorrhoidal bleeding;

  • Combination of flowers, seeds, and leaves is used to reduce white vaginal discharge and indigestion.


  • Barks are useful for the treatment of various skin diseases.


  • Recipes to come

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