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  • Title
    Leaves from Botany Bay used as tea
  • Call number
    R 807
  • Level of description
  • Date

    ca. 1791
  • Type of material
  • Reference code
  • Issue Copy
  • Physical Description
    Objects - 2 leaves of Smilax glyciphylla with photostat of wrapper
  • Access Conditions

    Access via appointment
  • Copying Conditions
    Out of copyright:
    Please acknowledge:: Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
  • General note

    The packet from which the leaves are selected is inscribed by James Boswell "Leaves from Botany Bay used as tea". The leaves were among a store taken by Mary Bryant when she escaped and are said to have been given by her to Boswell.

    The leaves are from the Boswell Papers in Yale University Library, where further material concerning Mary Bryant is held. In response to a request by A.H. Chisholm, editor-in-chief of the Australian Encyclopaedia, two leaves and a copy of the wrapper bearing Boswell's inscription were presented to the Mitchell Library in 1956. The Boswell Editorial Committee at Yale University Library intended for the leaves to be presented by the Hon. D.M. Moffat, United States Ambassador and Yale alumnus, but upon his death the gift was presented in his honour.

    Identified in 1956 by an officer at the Herbarium as Smilax glyciphylla, commonly known as wild sarsaparilla; "a small straggling vine found on the coastal regions of Australia ... Tea made from it has a bittersweet flavour but is better than that made from ti tree" (note on file). The plant contains ascorbic acid; early colonists drank it as a tea substitute and used it as a remedy against scurvy (On the Run exhibition caption).

    Correspondence between A.H. Chisholm, editor-in-chief of the Australian Encyclopaedia, and Prof. F.A. Pottle of Yale, concerning Mary Bryant material in the Boswell Papers, is at ML MSS Ab 211 (CY4550).

    A typed copy of a talk by Chisholm about Bryant, Boswell and the leaves on ABC "News Review", 17 December 1956, is filed with the leaves at R 807.
    Digital order no:a928933
  • Name
  • Topic
  • Place
  • Exhibited in

    On the Run. Daring Convict Escapes - State Library of New South Wales (6 November, 2006 - 9 February, 2007)
    ONE hundred : celebrating the Mitchell Library centenary - State Library of New South Wales (March, 2010 - June, 2010)
    Eat your History : A shared table - Museum of Sydney (September, 2013 - March, 2014)
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