|Generally they considered it as
an intruder, capable of degrading their fine pastures, which prompted a
search and destroy attitude resulting in its removal by ploughing under,
digging out, burning or spraying.
Today, the farmer's attitude is changing towards
the sagg. This is a spin off from their awareness of the values associated
with their property's remnant bushland, be it pristine or degraded. Not
only is sagg being accepted as an integral part of their grassy woodlands,
it is being recognised for the important roles it performs. Its rapid re-establishment
within degraded remnants heralds the beginning of a natural
regeneration process, ultimately leading to the return
of the original biodiversity to the area. Farmers consider this outcome essential
for conservation and stock shelter reasons.
The sagg provides an important buffer to the elements
and provides protection during the regeneration of the more sensitive plants
within the original vegetation community. It promotes native butterfly populations
by being a larval food source for their caterpillars, and its ability to
create refuges and habitat for native birds, fauna ( eg bandicoots), as well
as a myriad of insects, in conjunction with its ability to produce the first
flush of new greenery in the blackened moonscape following wildfires or
prescribed burns, has helped it regain respect amongst today’s environmentally
aware farmers. This photo represents less than 4 months regrowth.
Landscape and Garden Values
In recent years, sagg has proven to be a popular
landscape plant, respected and used by landscape architects and horticulturalists
alike, for its resilience and consistency of form. When incorporated as framework
plants, either in formal settings or in revegetation projects, they consistently
perform their amenity and ecological roles, with minimal followup maintenance
requirements. They are tolerant of climatic extremes and soil conditions,
which will often cause the demise of most other "hardy" native plants. They
also establish with ease from either seedlings or transplanted mature plants.
commonly available from building or development sites,
where earthworks destroy most of the other
native vegetation, which will generally die if transplanting
Away from these public sites, they are equally valuable
as feature plants in a domestic landscape
setting. They add textural interest to rockeries
and native gardens due to their foliage, flowers and
fruits. They can even be picked (with care) for use
as attractive shapes in floral art or dried vase arrangements.
Aboriginal Plant Use
Aboriginal families travelling through the woodland
landscapes, relied on their intimate knowledge of native plants to relieve
their hunger and dryness. Due to its availability, the sagg provided an
easy means of gaining a tasty moist snack. One could imagine the youngsters
extracting the young central leaves from the tussocks and enjoying the pea
like taste and texture of the moist, white leaf bases - the equivalent of
today's "Mars Bar". When camped in one place, the nectar-laden flowers were
steeped in water to provide a sweet drink. With a few squashed ants, to provide
a formic acid source (citrus taste), plus time enough for fermentation, they
could expect the final brew to provide a relatively relaxing experience.
The leaves were important for making dillies. These
woven baskets were used for collecting plant foods
or shellfish such as oysters, mussels, scallops,
and even crayfish. The women would dive off the rocks
into the cold estuarine waters, with their dillies
strapped over their shoulders to collect a feed of the bountiful shellfish
with these versatile baskets.
The baskets were made for carrying most of their
needs using the following basic method. The leaves
once picked were split down the centre into two and
left to dry for 3 or more days. Before being worked
they were dampened with water for 24 hours to render
them pliable. This process of making the leaves supple, also allowed their
use for bandaging sores or abscesses on the arms and legs, which needed to
be kept clean and tied up.
Over the last few years the sagg has finally regained
the respect shown by the original aboriginal land managers. Today's land
managers are now realising the potential of this “too common to be useful"
native rush. Its future is assured.