Tōtara – Podocarpus totara

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

Pōhutukawa – Metrosideros excelsa

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

A Guide to New Zealand Plant Beers, Wines & Spirits

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

Hangehange – Geniostoma ligustrifolium

The shiny lettuce green leaves of Hangehange are a common sight in New Zealand forests and bush fragments. These soft fleshy leaves can be distinguished from other plants by a distinctive “drip tip”, an elongated point at the end of the leaf that allows rain to run off. Hangehange leaves were used as a flavouring in Māori cuisine. The roots of kumara and cabbage tree … Continue reading Hangehange – Geniostoma ligustrifolium

Kahakaha – Astelia hastatum

Kahakaha or Perching Lily is an epiphytic plant found nesting in the canopy. In some places it grows so densely that it forms an aerial garden, suspended amongst the tree tops. Early European bushmen called the plant Widow Maker as the plants often fell to the ground when they were milling native timber. Sometimes the weight of the plants could snap branches, threatening to crush unsuspecting victims below. The … Continue reading Kahakaha – Astelia hastatum

Nīkau – Rhopalostylis sapida

History & Culture In the early Miocene (around 23 million years ago) New Zealand had a much warmer climate and contained distinctive tropical elements in its flora. Palms were common at this time, and even included species of Coconut – such as the small fruited Cocos zeylanica. As a result of glaciation and cooling, these species have been removed from the landscape, with only one … Continue reading Nīkau – Rhopalostylis sapida