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Corynocarpus laevigatus: Where art thou? Finding evidence of this elusive tree crop

Maxwell, Justin J., Tromp, Monica
Review of palaeobotany and palynology 2016 v.234 pp. 198-210
Corynocarpus laevigatus, case studies, charcoal, neurotoxins, pollen, sediments, seeds, starch, stone fruits, trees
The drupe of Corynocarpus laevigatus was an important source of storable starch and carbohydrate for Maori and Moriori. However direct evidence of the drupe in archaeological sites is rare. In this review paper we look at the archaeological visibility of C. laevigatus, presenting data on how and where it might be encountered in archaeological contexts. This includes a discussion of the difficulty in identifying its pollen in sedimentary records and the first published description of modern C. laevigatus starch and of starch in an archaeological context. A case study examining the archaeological visibility of C. laevigatus from Rekohu (Chatham Island) is included, where it is found as remnant stands of trees which were carved by Moriori, as charcoal and carbonised seeds in archaeological contexts and as starch in sediments where the edible drupe had been processed to remove a neurotoxin or stored.