Lawyer cane vine
Ben Lockens

Lawyer cane vine

Calamus australis

The lawyer cane is more commonly known as ‘wait-a-while’. This climbing palm is endemic (meaning only found in) to Queensland and has earned its reputation and name among unsuspecting bushwalkers and tourists.

The spiky palm grows as a vine with prickles and hooks along its leaf-sheath and leaves.  Whip-like flagellum up to 3m long splay outwards and are covered in recurved hooks.  When brushed against, the hooks latch onto clothing or skin, entangling the person - hence the term ‘wait a while’.

Lawyer cane flowers grow on a long spike and develop into small, edible white fruit. Aboriginal peoples throughout Queensland have used the lawyer cane for food and fibre.  The flexible, long spiked flagellum can be attached as a fishing hook or used to pull out larvae from timber. The strong and flexible cane is also a weaving material used in basketry, shelter, binding tools, traps and handles.