Ilimbil

(EE-lim-bil)

Banyan

Ficus virens

Description

A large spreading deciduous tree to 20 m high, often with many aerial roots; leaves oblong to 14 cm long; flowers and fruit held in a fleshy, globular, white “fig” to 1 cm diameter. Found in monsoon vine forest and open forest. Fruit March-September.

Uses

The fruit are eaten when they are ripe (white). The bark of the aerial roots, balirrirr, is stripped off and the rough outside bark cleaned off. The remaining inner bark is chewed to soften it and the fibre is then twined on the upper thigh with the palm of the hand to make string or rope, alwurdu. This is very strong and may be used for a range of purposes.

(Source: Blake, N., Wightman, G., and Williams, L. 1998. Iwaidja Ethnobotany, p. 72. NT Botanical Bulletin No. 23, Parks and Wildlife Commission, Darwin.)