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Edwin Butler

Castanospermum australe
black bean tree, guumu (Guugu Yimithirr) mai (Yuggara)

2019, watercolour on paper
68 x 53.5 cm

Collected 1770: Endeavour River

Observed 2017, 2018: Brisbane Botanic Gardens suburban Brisbane

This brilliant and lyrical composition shows the life cycle of the tree in sensuous detail – from textures of the bark, through the changing colours and structure of unfurling flower sprays, to the large smooth pod with seeds, to a delicate seedling root system.

Castanospermum australe is a tropical rainforest tree whose heavy seeds are poisonous. However, Indigenous peoples make them safe to eat through careful preparation and cooking.

The seeds are finely sliced, then soaked in running water for up to ten days, roasted and then ground to a flour and cooked as a damper, serving as a staple food source. The seeds contain alkaloids that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-HIV and anti-cancer properties.

Dillenia alata
golden guinea tree, gabgarr (Guugu Yimithirr)

2019, watercolour on paper
39 X 53 cm

Collected 1770: Point Lookout Endeavour River

Collected 2018: Brisbane

This vibrant, high contrast portrait of the tropical tree Dillenia alata displays the plant’s charismatic features. Broad glossy leaves, connected to stems by a distinctive winged stalk (petiole), form a spreading canopy in the rainforest understory. Luminous yellow flowers have intense pink centres. The open fruit reveals bright red pink valves, white flesh and brown seeds. The artist stages a dramatic interplay of form, texture and colour.

The seeds and flesh of the segmented fruit are edible and a traditional food for Indigenous peoples. Bark from aerial roots is used as a source of string fibre for making bags. The wood may be used for making dug-out canoes.

Melaleuca thymifolia
thyme honey myrtle

2019, watercolour on paper
39 x 26 cm

Collected 1770: Botany Bay

Collected 2019: Brisbane

The artist has depicted the plant at a magnified scale, revealing the leaf and wood textures and the attractive and intricate flower forms in fine detail. This unusual level of magnification demonstrates the keen observational skills and work of the botanical artist and enables the viewer to gain another perspective.

Melaleuca thymifolia is a low, spreading shrub and popular garden plant. The bright clustering flowers are stemless with five feathered stamens that curl inwards. The simple, paired, blue green leaves point upwards and are spicily aromatic when crushed.

© 2020 Botanical Artists’ Society Queensland