Mangeao – Litsea calicaris

Mangeao often served a dark purpose in Māori culture.  Those skilled in witchcraft would use twigs of Mangeao in their rituals, calling down evil spirits to curse their enemies. To lift the curse, a powerful healer was required to exorcise the demons and send them back into the Mangeao branches.
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Despite its sometimes troubling use – Mangeao has proved itself an important and useful plant. It has a strong flexible timber that has been fashioned into violins, waka, wheels and railway carraiges. It was even used to construct the top floor of the Beehive – New Zealand’s parliamentary building.

Māori midwives used Mangeao to assist with childbirth. The pregnant mother was placed in a warm bath to which the leaves of Mangeao, Bush Lawyer and Tree fuschia were added. The vapours released were thought to help ease childbirth and the removal of the placenta.

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Want to learn more about Mangeao?
New Zealand Plant Conservation Network
Ngā tipu whakaoranga database

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