Lemonwood – Pittosporum eugenioides

Crush the leaves of Lemonwood in your hands, and you will immediately understand how the plant got its name. The leaves and bark have an undeniable and delicious lemony-aroma. This sweet-smelling plant captured the attention of Māori who used it to make perfume and hair oils.  The gummy resin that oozes from the bark was mixed with bird fat and the oil of Tītoki and Kōhia and rubbed over the hair and body.


Lemonwood was also one of the best sources of chewing gum. Resin from the bark was rolled into a ball, mixed with the sap of Pūhā, and then chewed. This lemony gum was highly prized as a cure for bad breath, and kept for a remarkably long time. There are reports of some gum balls being chewed and passed on through several generations.

The gum also served as a type of glue, which could be smeared over rope and knots and allowed to harden. Wood from the trunk and branches was used to make small musical trumpets, which were then glued together using the gum.


Want to find out more?

New Zealand Plant Conservation Network
Ngā Tipu Whakaoranga – Māori Plant Use Database

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