Aboriginal Heritage - Melville
Aboriginal name: Jeeriji, Dyergee
Scientific name: Macrozamia riedlei
- The fruits of the Zamia palm were regularly eaten by the local Aborigines. The cone, which breaks apart during February-March, allowed the plants many ripe seeds to be collected throughout March.
- This was well-timed, as the Aboriginal people would frequently be camped on the Swan River at this time, to catch mullet & mulloway. As this would last for a few months, the zamia seeds could be treated correctly prior to eating, so as to avoid illness.
- Some of the sailors, during the 1697 visit of the Dutch navigator, Willem de Vlamingh, became ill after eating jeeriji fruit.
- The toxins from the fruit were removed by the Aboriginal people by a lengthy process involving burial of the fruits for some time, then soaking in water.
- Finally the fruit, which is said to have a tomato-like flavour, was roasted and the inner nut eaten.
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