Late autumn comes alive with lovely yellow blooms of Manna Wattle (Acacia microbotrya). The common name comes from copious edible gum that exudes from stems to repel burrowing grubs.
Those of you who remember the days when one had to lick postage stamps before sticking them on envelopes, may not know that you were licking acacia gum (called gum arabic). I have talked to Noongars who used to chew the gum as kids. There is no taste and the practice is not recommended for those with dentures (exceptionally sticky).
The gum was also used in the manufacture of local lollies ( candy). Early farmers had to find any way of supplementing their income and sold gum to Plaistowes in Perth. A friend of mine told me that his father received about a pound ($2) for a sugarbag of gum, which was a handy supplement for a family with 13 children.
I suggest that you stop and have a look at gum blobs on the stems. They can be quite beautiful in reflected sunlight. particularly after rain.
Manna wattle is a widely used Noongar food and medicine. The seeds and gum were used as food. Infusions of the inner bark were used to treat diarrhoea, and the gum was used to sooth inflamed skin.
Wise Wines has crafted a boutique Narrogin Gin from manna wattle leaves picked by yours truly and some St Matthews Primary school teachers. Enjoy!