Bloodroot, Haemodorum spicatum, has been a food source from the Noongar Aboriginal people along the south and west coast of Western Australia. The Aborigines used the red bulbous root of the plant by roasting and using as a spice, it was also used as a treatment for dysentery. It is endemic to the South West of Western Australia.
A relative of Kangaroo paws, this herbaceous plant produces a distinct flower spike from an edible fleshy bulb.
Generally blended into food and often baked by Noongar people prior to consumption. It is usually blended with other things and baked prior to consumption. It is said to have a taste like chlli or wasabi.
Common on sands along the south and west coast of Western Australia from Geraldton to Esperance and inland to Kojonup.
It is not yet commercially available. The compound responsible for the red colour and hot taste is soluble in oil and easy to extract by slicing the bulb and pickling in oil. The vibrant red extract has application as a colouring, flavouring, spice or additive in sauces or chutneys. Dry powdered product has application as a hot spice but does not have application as a red colouring.
The typically vibrant red bulb is both fibrous and gelatinous and produces a slow to develop, but lasting heat similar to pepper or curry powder. Bulbs collected from some areas have a more mild taste.
The potential to develop this product as a new, commercial vegetable crop is currently being investigated. It also has potential as a commercial dye.
Source: Australian Flora Foundation