Māori Plant Use

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Plant Use Details 

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Hierochloe redolens. Kāretu. Scented grass. Main reference.
FAMILY: Poaceae Grass family
BOTANICAL NAME: Hierochloe redolens
COMMON NAME: Holy grass; scented grass
MEDICINAL: Scented grass used in medicated vapour baths (Taylor 1870; Goldie 1905).
Scaldhead (pātito) - take handful and a half and burn it, but not to ashes. Dust head 4 times a day. (O'Carroll 1884).
See Riley 1994 for information on medicinal uses of related plants elsewhere in the world.
DOMESTIC: Belts (tū) for suspending breast ornaments (Te Rangi Hiroa 1949).
To make leaf more pliable, midrib (tuaka) taken out of each leaf before being used for plaiting belts (Best 1899, 1908).
ENVIRONMENT: Buchanan 1869, lists kāretu among native grasses of best quality for pasture (Otago).
PASTIME: Culm used in game called topa, koke or niu (Best 1925, p.167)
SCENT: Used for women's belts, headbands, anklets, sachets, chaplets, etc. (Best 1942; Te Rangi Hiroa 1923)
''the daisy like flowers of the roniu (Brachycome odorata) [now Brachyscome radicata] and the flowering tops of the sweet-scented grass karetu...were worn round the neck, enclosed in fibrous leaves, as in a scented necklace''. Sitting and sleeping places strewed with leaves. (Colenso 1869a).
''Its odour when fresh, confined in a small house, was always to me too powerful'' (Colenso 1892b).
Used in a recipe for scent. See Aciphylla (Brett's Guide 1883).