Haemodorum spicatumCommon name: Mardja

Meaning of name: Haemodorum is thought to be from the Greek words haima, meaning blood, and doron, meaning gift. Spicatum is from the Latin word spica, meaning point, flower-spike.

Aboriginal name: Born.

Aboriginal use: The roots of Haemodorum spicatum were eaten raw or roasted for food. They were also taken when suffering from dysentery. Decoctions of the bulb helped with lung congestion. Bulbs made into a paste helped with arthritis. The colour from the roots was used as a dye.

Distribution: Occurs along the coast from Dongara to Esperance.

Remarks: The short blackish-green leaves are much shorter than the flowering spike which grows to 2 metres. The flowers are black and produced in November and December.

The flowers don’t fully open and native bees force their way in to collect pollen and nectar.

References: Western Australian Plant Names and their Meanings, a Glossary. FA Sharr. 1996.

Flora of the Perth Region. NG Marchant, JR Wheeler, BL Rye, EM Bennett, NS Lander, TD Macfarlane. 1987.

Bush Tucker Plants of the South-West. B Daw, T Walley, G Keighery. 1997.

Noongar Bush Medicine, Medicinal Plants of the South-west of Western Australia. Vivienne Hansen & John Horsfall. 2016