Get Regular Updates!
Search
|Meet the youlk: your new favourite Noongar veggie

Food

image|

Tucker Bush

Meet the youlk: your new favourite Noongar veggie

Meet the youlk: your new favourite Noongar veggie

Have you tried this bush food vegetable?

Meet the youlk: your new favourite Noongar veggie

Some people say it tastes like a cross between a carrot and a parsnip. Others liken it to a radish or even a pear.

But everybody agrees – it’s delicious.

We’re talking about the youlk, a native root vegetable that grows wild on WA’s south coast and is a common feature of Aboriginal cuisine.

An Aboriginal life skill

UWA adjunct researcher and Noongar Elder Lynette Knapp was taught to harvest youlks by her father.

“You can do it all summer long,” she says.

“As long as you cover back in what you don’t use because we normally leave a little bit in the ground.

“They just send out runners and regrow.”

Lynette – or ‘Auntie Lyn’ as her colleagues call her – says youlks swell up in summer, making them a valuable water source.

That makes finding youlks an important Aboriginal life skill.

This crisp, native root vegetable grows wild in WA’s south coast and it's delicious flavour has hints of carrot, parsnip or pear.
Image|Steve Hopper
‘Aunty Lyn’ offers instructions to Alison as she harvests youlk near Ravensthorpe
“It’s a thing that all Aboriginal people have been taught for many, many thousands of years,” Lynette says.

Finding youlks in the bush

Lynette recently collaborated with UWA conservation biologist Dr Alison Lullfitz on research into how youlk plants respond when they’re harvested.

Alison says youlks are very well known to Noongar people, particularly around the south coast.

She says the plant mainly grows around the Jerramungup and Ravensthorpe areas.

“It’s a small shrub, really quite nondescript,” Alison says. “It doesn’t stand out at all in the bush.”

The tubers themselves are about the size of a small potato.

Alison says the easiest way to spot youlk plants is to look for its flowers between March and May, which are similar to those on coriander or parsley plants.

View Larger
Image|Flickr – Kevin Thiele
Small white flowers of the Platysace deflexa aka youlk

Youlks also have a distinctive herby smell, she says.

Ancient knowledge

Youlk plants live on after they’re harvested, much like a sweet potato.

You can remove the offshoot tubers, leaving the main plant to continue growing.

In their research, Alison and Lynette found that harvesting youlks appears to have a renewing effect on the tubers.

One year after the tubers were collected, youlk plants in the study had just as many stems as they did pre-harvest.

However, after 2 years, the size and weight of the tubers was still less than before they were harvested.

Some people describe the youlk as like a carrot or a parsnip, . Credit: Tucker Bush View Larger
Image |

Tucker Bush

Some people describe the youlk as like a carrot or a parsnip,
… and others, a radish or a pear. You might even pick up a sweet eucalypt flavour. . Credit: Tucker Bush View Larger
Image |

Tucker Bush

… and others, a radish or a pear. You might even pick up a sweet eucalypt flavour.

“That actually corresponded well with what Noongar Elders were telling us,” Alison says.

“And that was that, usually, they would probably have more of a 4-year rotation of harvest of individual plots.”

Alison says there were big variations in the yields from different sites. She heard from Noongar Elders that their families had their favourite plots that they would go back to again and again.

The best bush coleslaw

Alison says youlks are starting to gain traction in restaurants, and there are programs to support Indigenous landowners to grow them commercially.

“To me, I think they’re really tasty,” Alison says.

Lynette says youlks are traditionally eaten raw.

“Cleaned and straight out of the ground … it’s yummy,” she says.

“If we’re up country and if I pass through where we go and get our youlk, I’ll possibly stop and dig a couple up.

“It’s absolutely beautiful. I add it to my coleslaws – makes it like nothing else.”

Particle Puns

Republish

Creative Commons Logo

Republishing our content

We want our stories to be shared and seen by as many people as possible.

Therefore, unless it says otherwise, copyright on the stories on Particle belongs to Scitech and they are published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

This allows you to republish our articles online or in print for free. You just need to credit us and link to us, and you can’t edit our material or sell it separately.

Using the ‘republish’ button on our website is the easiest way to meet our guidelines.

Guidelines

You cannot edit the article.

When republishing, you have to credit our authors, ideally in the byline. You have to credit Particle with a link back to the original publication on Particle.

If you’re republishing online, you must use our pageview counter, link to us and include links from our story. Our page view counter is a small pixel-ping (invisible to the eye) that allows us to know when our content is republished. It’s a condition of our guidelines that you include our counter. If you use the ‘republish’ then you’ll capture our page counter.

If you’re republishing in print, please email us to let us so we know about it (we get very proud to see our work republished) and you must include the Particle logo next to the credits. Download logo here.

If you wish to republish all our stories, please contact us directly to discuss this opportunity.

Images

Most of the images used on Particle are copyright of the photographer who made them.

It is your responsibility to confirm that you’re licensed to republish images in our articles.

Video

All Particle videos can be accessed through YouTube under the Standard YouTube Licence.

The Standard YouTube licence

  1. This licence is ‘All Rights Reserved’, granting provisions for YouTube to display the content, and YouTube’s visitors to stream the content. This means that the content may be streamed from YouTube but specifically forbids downloading, adaptation, and redistribution, except where otherwise licensed. When uploading your content to YouTube it will automatically use the Standard YouTube licence. You can check this by clicking on Advanced Settings and looking at the dropdown box ‘License and rights ownership’.
  2. When a user is uploading a video he has license options that he can choose from. The first option is “standard YouTube License” which means that you grant the broadcasting rights to YouTube. This essentially means that your video can only be accessed from YouTube for watching purpose and cannot be reproduced or distributed in any other form without your consent.

Contact

For more information about using our content, email us: particle@scitech.org.au

Copy this HTML into your CMS
Press Ctrl+C to copy

We've got chemistry. Want something physical?