Edible NZ native plants and their benefits
Macropiper excelsum (kawakawa)
Kawakawa is an attractive shrub with broad heart-shaped leaves. The fruit, bark and leaves of the kawakawa are all consumable and have their own medicinal properties.
- Fruit: The fruit of the female plants are are orange and protruding in a spike and have a sweet taste as compared to the seeds which are peppery. To extract the center of the fruit, pinch at the top and pull.
- Leaves: Most commonly known for kawakawa tea, brew a few leaves in boiling water, strain and enjoy. Adding honey, orange or lemongrass can add to the enjoyment of your experience. Make sure you select leaves that have holes chewed in them (caused by the looper moth caterpillar). The kawakawa plant responds to the chewing by releasing enzymes that create the rejuvenating and cleansing properties of kawakawa. Kawakawa tea assists in reducing stomach and bladder problems. The leaves also have qualities that have been used on cuts, boils, rheumatism etc.
- Bark: Leaves and bark can be used to treat skin ailments.
Tastes like: Chewing on these leaves or in a tea creates a tingling numb sensation in the mouth and lips. The taste is minty and peppery
Benefits: Kawakawa can be used as a mild antiseptic and pain relief.
Want to know more? visit The Herb Federation of New Zealand
Fuchsia procumbens is the smallest growing fuchsia in the world. It has slender stems and rich green foliage that creep up surfaces or sprawl as a ground cover.
Wanting to add an extra crunch to a summer salad?
Tastes like: These berries appear at the beginning of winter and have a sweet peppery taste and a crunchy fleshy texture.
Horopito (Pseudowintera colorata)
This low growing colourful shrub has traditionally red speckled leaves. At Naturally Native we grow cultivated varieties called 'Red leopard', 'Red glow', and 'Burgundy delight'. While being a beauty in your garden the leaves of this specimen also contain culinary and medicinal properties.
- Tastes like: Pepper - also known as the NZ pepper tree, the leaves have a hot spicy flavour and can be used to replace chilli
- Benefits: This plant has anti fungal properties (the more red on the leaf the more anti fungal), contracts body tissues and reduces bleeding, and has antiseptic properties so is good for cuts and bruises
Koromiko (Hebe stricta)
Koromiko can also refer to Hebe elliptica and hebe salicifolia. These shrubs have beautiful white flowers that appear in summer and are often used in revegetation projects and for garden design. However they can also be used for medicinal purposes
- Tastes like: The leaves are bitter so are most often used more for the benefits that taste.
- Benefits: Brewing the leaves in tea can help with gut problems such as diarrhoea and dysentery. This plant also has properties that tighten tissues, help to stop bleeding and dry up secretions