Kānuka has a tough time bursting through to the public spotlight. It’s often overshadowed by its cousin mānuka – stealing the limelight with headlines about its remarkable medicinal honey. But kānuka is an incredibly impressive plant in its own right that stands apart from its fellow tea-tree. While mānuka can be found in both New Zealand and Australia, our kānuka species are endemic to NZ and found … Continue reading Kānuka – Kunzea spp.
I am very excited to announce the publication of: The Meaning of Trees – the history and use of New Zealand’s native plants. When I first began this blog in 2014, I was completing my undergraduate studies in biology at the University of Auckland. In the back of my mind, I had always dreamed of turning the blog into a book, but didn’t know how … Continue reading The Meaning of Trees Book
Culture & History Despite being perhaps one of the more important native plants in New Zealand, for most of the 20th century mānuka was viewed as a noxious weed. Farmers especially loathed the plant, viewing it as a costly nuisance that prevented them from developing areas of hill country. When a black sooty mould fungus caused widespread devastation of mānuka it was seen as a cause for celebration and … Continue reading Mānuka – Leptospermum scoparium
Over the years, many people have speculated that the pipeweed the hobbits are smoking is actually Cannabis sativa. Proponents of this theory point to the tendency for hobbits to become drowsy or giddy after smoking it, and suggest that this may help explain their voracious appetite. Continue reading The Botany of Middle Earth – Part II
Tōtara is a forest giant, with a massive woody trunk that holds aloft thousands of sharp needle-like leaves. The name ‘tōtara’ is probably a reference to these spiky leaves, as the word tara in Māori means spike or thorn and is used for other spiky animals and plants. Tōtara is covered in thick, stringy bark and can live for over 1000 years. It earned the … Continue reading Tōtara – Podocarpus totara
History & Culture Today, New Zealand’s plant life is widely admired and readily adopted as symbols of our identity and culture. But for many of the early European settlers first setting foot on New Zealand, the forest was viewed in a hostile, fearful manner. Exchanging manicured fields and rolling pastures for a land covered in dense, rugged, unfamiliar forest; it is not surprising that many … Continue reading Pōhutukawa – Metrosideros excelsa
The history of brewing alcohol in New Zealand is relatively short. Māori were one of the few indigenous groups in the world that had no history of alcohol use – a title they share with they inuit of Canada and several Native american tribes. They got by fine by drinking plain water, occasionally garnished with fern fronds, or sweetened with flax nectar or sugar from … Continue reading A Guide to New Zealand Plant Beers, Wines & Spirits