Wharangi – Melicope ternata

IMG_0083Wharangi belongs to the citrus family, and its leaves are studded with oil glands. When the leaves are crushed, they produce a familiar lemony-orange scent. Māori would chew the gum of Wharangi as a cure for bad breath, as it sweetens and refreshes the mouth. The gum would also be used to produce sweet smelling hair oils and perfumes.

There are conflicting reports about its toxicity. The leaves were once thought to be poisonous, but rats fed on a diet of Wharangi leaves were unharmed. Several sources claim that eating honey made from the nectar will result in immediate death.

Want to learn more about Wharangi?

Ngā tipu whakaoranga: Māori plant use database
New Zealand Plant Conservation Network

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Photo Credits: Robert Vennell

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