Bush lawyer – Tātaramoa – is New Zealand’s answer to blackberry, a scrambling thorny climber studded with sharp backwards-curved hooks. Unlike blackberry however, Bush Lawyer can be found in the middle of the forest, snaring unsuspecting trampers in dense spiky tangles. Once it grabs hold of you, it’s unlikely to let go – presumably the rationale behind its curious English name.
Despite the anguish it causes, Bush Lawyer has proved itself a useful and practical plant. Europeans were quick to spot the resemblance with wild blackberry and used the fruit to make stews, preserves and jams. The large thick vines can be cut and drained to produce a juice-like beverage, a valuable source of liquid in a survival situation.
Māori also made use of the fruit, but more important were the bark and leaves which were used in a number of herbal remedies. Infusions were used to treat sore throats, chest complaints, stomach aches and diarrhoea. A vapour bath of the leaves and roots was used as a cleansing remedy after childbirth to assist with removal of the placenta.
Want to learn more about Bush Lawyer?