Māori Plant Use

   Skip Navigation Links
Copyright © 2021

Plant Use Details 

Fuchsia excorticata. Kōtukutuku. Tree fuchsia.
FAMILY: Onagraceae Evening primrose family
BOTANICAL NAME: Fuchsia excorticata
MĀORI NAME: KŌTUKUTUKU, kōhutuhutu, kōhutukutuku (Taylor 1847) kōhutuku (Goldie 1905),
Fruit: KŌNINI (term sometimes used for the tree) tākawa (Williams 1971), kōtukutuku - southern name for fruit as well as tree (Beattie 1920), hōnā (Best 1908), māti (Williams 1971),
Flowers: tākawa (Best 1908)
COMMON NAME: tree fuchsia
MEDICINAL: After childbirth, Māori women sometimes used a vapour bath, with plants such as tātarāmoa (Rubus australis), mangaeo (Litsea calicaris), and kōtukutuku (Fuchsia excorticata), to promote lochial discharge (Bennett 1883 ; Goldie 1905)
''Its juice, which is astringent and agreeable, might perhaps yield an extract that would be useful in bowel complaints'' (in Catalogue, New Zealand Exhibition 1865 - notes probably by Buchanan.)
FOOD: Berry eaten (Taylor 1847; Taylor 1855 ; Colenso 1869a, 1869b, 1881 ; Best 1908, 1942; Makereti 1938)
''The fruit ... is sweet though rather insipid'' (Taylor 1847)
''Purple fruit of a rather sweet taste, somewhat astringent...'' (Kirk, in Taylor 1870).
Fruit ''...pleasant to the taste, and very full of flavour'' (Servant 1973).
Berry ''prized, sweet and juicy, an admirable preserve'' (Allom, in Earp 1853).
Jam made from berries (Faulkner 1958). ''...(made) a delicious pudding from the native fuschia berries'' (Mrs Lush, Auckland, 1850 recorded in Weekly News, 14/6/39, p.89)
Juice was a delicious treat, relished exceedingly (Nicholas 1817).
Berries eated raw, hua-kōtukutuku (Māori informant in Beattie 1920 ; Tunuku Karetai in Beattie, MS 582/E/11, Hocken).
DYES: ''...yields a purple dye and affords a good ink'' (Kirk, in Taylor 1870).
Wood astringent, forming shades of purple to black with iron (Buchanan 1869).
In the early summer, young people adorned their faces with the light-blue pollen of the flowers (Colenso 1882b).
DOMESTIC: 'Bucket of water' wood, extremely difficult to burn (like rewarewa) (Kirk 1889).
CHEMISTRY: Tannins in bark (Aston 1918b, 1919a)
PROVERBS: ''I whea koe i te ngahorotanga o te rau o te kōtukutuku? Meaning: Where wert thou in the time of work,- or of danger? Literally: Where wert thou in the falling of the leaves of the kōtukutuku?.'' (Colenso 1880: 117)