Microseris lanceolata

Microseris lanceolata

Microseris lanceolata (syn. M. scapigera) is a perennial herb also known as murnong and yam daisy. It is found in many forms in Australia (Victoria) and on the island of Tasmania, the Tasmanian form being markedly smaller than the mainland Australian form. A variable species, it has the form of a tufted rosette of toothed lanceolate leaves. The flower stalk is notable for its curious behaviour: pendulous before flowering, it becomes erect for flowering, lifting the flower to the attention of pollinators, then becomes pendulous again until the seed head ripens, at which time it becomes erect again, exposing the seed head to the best possible wind exposure. The 'flower' is a yellow head of florets, reminiscent of a dandelion. The seed heads ripen to a cluster of fluffy, tan achenes, each having a crown of fine extensions called a pappus. Seed dispersal is by wind.

Cultivation and uses

The species has edible tuberous roots and was once an important source of food for the aboriginal natives of Australia and Tasmania. The introduction of cattle, sheep and goats by Europeans led to the near extinction of Murnong, with calamitous results for the aboriginals who depended upon Murnong for a large part of their food. Murnong was prepared by roasting or pit baking; the taste is described as "sweet with a flavour of coconut".


  • A.B. & J.W. Cribb (1974), Wild Food in Australia, pgs 150-15
  • Gott, B. (1993), Use of Victorian plants by Koories, in Flora of Victoria (Ed: Foreman D.B. and Walsh N.G.) Reed International Books, Australia.
  • Gott, B. (1983), Murnong ­ Microseris scapigera: a study of a staple food of Victorian Aborigines, Australian Aboriginal Studies 2: 2-17.

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