Grass Seed (Lyaw)
Lyaw (Grass Seed) Dreaming
Lyaw is the Alyawarr word for the seed of the pigweed or munyeroo (Portulaca oleracea), also referred to as grass seed in English.
The pigweed is a fleshy ground-hugging herb that can grow to one metre in diameter. It produces small yellow or orange flowers and numerous small black seeds. These seeds were once a most important food for the aboriginal people of Utopia. They are not typically a delicious food, but extremely nutritious.
The seeds must be collected at a critical time when the stems change from green to pink; if collected too soon they risk being immature, if collected too late they fall to the ground making collection too difficult. During this critical time, large quantities of the pigweed would be collected and piled onto cleared ground near the community. They would be left to dry and when the seeds fell to the ground they would be gathered in heaps and cleaned. After cleaning, the seeds were roasted and ground, before being consumed as a paste, a raw patty or cooked again.