Christmas tree

WA Christmas Tree (Photo by Elbia Sylwestrzak)

The WA Christmas Tree (Nuytsia floribunda) – called the Mundjah or Moojar by Noongar peopleis an important landmark in Jirdarup.  Christmas Tree Corner is well known by locals.

Mundjah trees are very sacred to the Noongar people still today. According to Aboriginal Elder, Roni Forrest, at a Friends’ walk in 2021, when a Noongar person dies their spirit enters the tree where they wait for Birak. When the tree flowers, their spirit goes west to Kurannup (over the ocean) to be with their ancestors. Noongar people will not pick the flowers other than to use for brew as they are believed to bring bad luck, and under no circumstances will a Noongar sit under a tree.

The orange flowers of the Mundjah are traditionally used to make a lightly alcoholic brew called mungitch. The sweet drink is brewed over several days by soaking the flowers in fresh water and the drink is used to celebrate the abundance of food traditionally on offer during Birak.

The first description of the tree’s hemiparasitic nature was recorded in 1919 by State Botanist, Desmond Herbert who observed that special roots called haustoria attacked a wide range of other plants including carrots, roses, grass and broad beans, over 100 metres away. He also described their tendency to produce suckers that visitors to Jirdarup can see firsthand.