Feature Plant

Zamia (Macrozamia riedlei)


Zamias grow to 3m high, usually trunkless, with 12-30 large deep green pinnate leaves growing from the crown. Noongar people used the leaves for thatching shelters and the soft woolly fibre at the base as tinder for fire.

Preferring lateritic soils, these plants are common in the understory of the jarrah forests and are often one of the first flora species to spring to life after a fire. These are ancient plants from the age of the dinosaurs, appearing on Earth nearly 300 million years ago. They are dioecious, meaning that there are separate male and female plants. Seeds are bright red and poisonous, known by Noongar people as by-yu. They ate the seed coatings, raw or roasted, first leaching the poison by soaking or burying them. Unfortunately, members of Vlamingh’s crew were not aware of this important step and were poisoned in 1697 by eating the seeds untreated.




Photo: Bush Skills for Youth Tree Cards

Seeds of the Zamia