Forest is a food store, pharmacy
New Zealand’s native bush is a veritable free supermarket. The forest is full of plants that have both medicinal and edible potential.
Maori, and later the early settlers, prized the unique therapeutic values found in the plants of the New Zealand bush. Today research is validating the medicinal and nutritional properties these plants possess.
For instance, kawakawa makes a lovely tea that is warming and can be used as a tonic. Traditionally used for general digestive and circulation problems as well as pain and inflammation, the spicy seeds also have a culinary use.
Manuka may be famous for the honey it produces, but there is more to manuka than simply honey. Manuka oils work as antiinflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti fungal agents. The inside bark has been used as a sedative for pain, while the leaves make a decent tea.
Mingimingi ( Coprosma propinqua), has little juicy blue berries. The leaves can also be boiled and the liquid taken for headaches and flu symptoms.
The fruit of makomako (wineberry) can be eaten raw and made into jam and wine. This plant also has a few medicinal qualities that are beneficial for treating stomach pains and rheumatics.
New Zealand’s wild blackberry, tataramoa or bush lawyer, has fruit that can be used for stews and jams. Maori use its bark and leaves for sore throats, stomach complaints and diarrhoea.
With winter on its way, kumerahoe or bushman’s soap is one of the most useful plants for treating seasonal ailments. Unfortunately, the plant does not grow in this area naturally, but kumerahoe is known for its treatment of bronchial ailments, and is still included in some commercially available remedies.
This is only a small sample of the native plants that have natural chemical-free efficacy as illness preventatives and health support, especially during the winter cold and flu season.
There is plenty more information about the medicinal and nutritional content of New Zealand’s native plants available online.
New Zealand’s kawakawa contains medicinal as well as culinary qualities.