Plant of the Month — August 2007
Velleia panduriformis Benth. — Cabbage Poison
Velleia panduriformis, also known as Cabbage Poison, is a perennial herb of the Goodeniaceae family, ranging in height from 0.4–1.5m. Its orange to yellow flowers can be seen from April to November. It can be found in central and northern Western Australia, where it grows in red sand, clay, sand dunes and sand plains.
The genus is named in honour of Thomas Velley (1748–1806), an English botanist who also specialised in seaweed and other marine plants. The species name of panduriformis is derived from the Latin pandura, a musical instrument similar to a fiddle, plus forma meaning shape, therefore, fiddle-shaped.
It is probable that some species of Velleia or allied genera possess active medicinal properties. A fragment of what appeared to be a species of Goodenia was sent to the late Dr Joseph Bancroft with a note stating that ‘the aboriginal women gave this to their babies to cause them to sleep when on long journeys’. Dr Bancroft, an eminent English surgeon who migrated to Brisbane in 1864, was keenly interested and very involved in the pharmacology of native plants for medicinal purposes and also in their toxicity to introduced stock. The common name of Velleia panduriformis implies that this plant falls into the latter category.
Photo: C.P. Campbell
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