Wp/nys/Djiriji and By-yu Kaartdijin

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See also Wp/nys/Djiridji

The Noongar djiriji, known by wedjela (white people) as the Zamia Palm, wer scientifically offered the name Macrozamia Riedlei, bears vibrant reddish-orange seedpods known as the by-yu or boyi that contain high amounts of toxins [1].The djiriji is a member of the cycad family wer is estimated to fruit two years after a burning [2].

Although preparation wer consumption may vary amongst the different Noongar language groups, it constitutes as a unique cultural marker for Noongar people of the south-west of Western Australia [3].The djiriji species has a large variance in Noongar boodjar (country), wer is characteristic of the western coastal plain, as it tends to flourish in sandy tropical regions [4]. The male djiriji have three cones that produce pollen, while the female grow keny larger cone with an up-ward pointing spike that offers seeds during the end of Djeran through Makuru, when the seeds display their vibrant red flesh [5]. Noongars, both kura (past) wer yeye (present), utilise the female plant for various ingenuities [6].



Wedjela wer By-yu[edit | edit source]

Reports by wedjela suggest the by-yu as possibly the first case of local plant poisoning after misjudging the plants provisions [7]. A prime example of the uneducated wedjela consumption are from records by the Dutchmen around Derbal Yaragan (Swan River), il Willem de Vlamingh’s voyage in the year 1697, where the seaman were stricken with harsh side-effects such as convulsions, vomiting wer diarrhoea [8]. Although those unaware may physically suffer from digesting the plant, Noongar kaartdijin, understanding wer connect to boodjar has allowed innovative use of the plant.

Preparation and Detoxification[edit | edit source]

Although wetj (emu) are unaffected by the poisons of the seed flesh, humans wer most other animals suffer severe side effects unless proper preparation is followed [9]. In Noongar boodjar, there are a variety of cultural procedures. Keny common form is by gathering the by-yu wer then soaking the seeds in running water to drain the toxins [10]. Noongars with close access to the wattarn (ocean) have been documented to use salt water in their detox techniques [11]. It has been recorded by wedjela Edwards that it was a common occurrence to see by-yu dangling from a string attached to a stake in the boodjar near the local beaches wer shores [12]. Those further inland used the local fresh water sources to soak the nuts for a period of time as a natural way to leach the nut [13].

Burying the collected by-yu in the boodjar for an extended amount of time, sometimes yira to six months, is a unique fermentation process which not only leaches the seed, but results in a desired food that is high in natural oils wer carotene [14]. Various accounts suggest burial of the by-yu, yet the specific knowledge of the length of burial is uncertain wer may vary between language groups wer mobs wer are potentially impacted by the proximity of natural resources such as salt water, freshwater or desert regions.


By-yu Merenj[edit | edit source]

Noongar heritage of the plant extends beyond simply detoxification as djiriji wer by-yu have been part of Noongar traditional diet wer undergoe unique cultural culinary methods. Cooking by-yu tends to be done by baking or roasting the by-yu after burial, which results in a taste similar to the tomato [15]. Additionally, the seeds can be boodjar into a flour-like consistency, which is commonly made into cakes wer breads [16]. Typical raw consumption for Noongars' is to peel the orange skins off of the seeds [17]. The traditional oily seedcoats, commonly consumed in early Bunuru, align with the seasonal hunter-gatherer cycle, as the natural fats of the flesh offer high levels of vitamins sufficient in preparation for the cold of Makuru bonar [18].

Other Uses of Djiriji[edit | edit source]

Noongar kaartdijin wer innovation of the Djiriji also consists of using the by-yu to stun djildjit (fish) as a hunting technique, wer use of its stock for tinder [19].

Djiriji has been a particularly relevant female resource, as yokk (women) utilised the cotton substance around the base of the plant for feminine hygiene [20] In addition, yokk repurposed the cotton-like base into a soft lining for coolman, a common carrying vessel typically used for food collection wer for toting coonings (babies)[21][22]. Researcher Dobson, documented in Cornish, that early harvesting wer detox treatments of the by-yu seeds were an exclusively female activity [23].

Unfortunately, most insight wer documentation archived in public domains has been done so by wedjela, offered from second hand observers, yet, Noongars' may be the only Indigenous people in the world who process the djiriji flesh in such a manner offering a vast array of edible wer nutritional fats, in addition to the various other ingenuities[24].

Wangkiny[edit | edit source]

The following sources were used in reference to Noongar Wangkiny (Language):

  • Bindon, P & Chadwick, R 2011, A Nyoongar wordlist: from the south-west of Western Australia, Western Australian Museum, Welshpool.

Barra wãn-gow[edit | edit source]

  1. City of Joondalup 2010, Plants and people in Moore Country: Nyungar plant use in Yellagonga Regional Park, ed. 2, City of Joondalup, Perth,
  2. Marshal, J & Darling Range Branch Wildflower Society of Western Australia 2002, Field Guide: Wildflowers of the West Coast Hills Region, Quality Publishing Australia, Jolimont
  3. Palmer, K 2016, Noongar land, Noongar people: the resilience of Aboriginal culture in the South West if Western Australia, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra
  4. Gardner, C & Bennetts, H 1956, The Toxic Plants of Western Australia, Periodicals Division West Australian Newspapers Ltd, Perth
  5. Marshal et al. 2002
  6. South East Regional Centre for Urban Landcare 2016
  7. Gardner & Bennetts 1956
  8. City of Joondalup 2010
  9. Marshall et al. 2002
  10. City of Joondalup 2010
  11. Asmussen, B 2011, ‘Changing Perspective in Australian Archaeology, part X. There is likewise a nut…a comparative ethnobotany of Aboriginal processing methods and consumption of Australian Bowenia, Cycas Lepidozamia and Macrozamia’ Technical Reports of the Australian Museum, vol. 23 no. 10, pp. 147-163. Available from: http://australianmuseum.net.au/journal/asmussen-2011-tech-rep-aust-mus-online-2310-147163. [ 13 October 2016].
  12. Edwards cited in Asmussan 2011
  13. Asmussen 2011
  14. Cornish, M 2010, ‘Macrozamia Sarcotesta as a traditional food among the Noongar of south-western Australia’, and Available from: http://www.anthropologyfromtheshed.com/assets/Macrozamia-article-by-Mark-Cornish-Sept-2010FINAL2.pdf [27 October 2016].
  15. South East Regional Centre for Urban Landcare 2016
  16. City of Joondalup 2010
  17. City of Joondalup 2010
  18. Cornish 2010
  19. South East Regional Centre for Urban Landcare 2016
  20. City of Joondalup 2010
  21. Leyland, E 2002,’ Wajarri Wisdom: food and medicine plants of the Mullewa/Murchison District of Western Australia as used by the Wajarri people’ The Yamaji Language Centre, Geraldton.
  22. City of Joondalup, 2010
  23. Cornish 2010
  24. Dobson in Cornish 2010