Māori Plant Use

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Plant Use Details 

Vitex lucens. Pūriri. Main reference.
FAMILY: Verbenaceae Vervain family
BOTANICAL NAME: Vitex lucens
MĀORI NAME: PŪRIRI, kauere (Williams 1971); kanieri (? Taylor)
MEDICINAL: Infusion of leaves used for ulcers, especially under the ears, 'keeping a rag constantly wet with the infusion.' (O'Carroll 1884).
Severe inflammation caused by splinters in hands and feet (Baber, quoted in Aston 1923b). Leaves - boiled, bath sprains and backache (Adams 1945).

Related pharmacology in Brooker, Cambie and Cooper 1987.
See Riley 1994 for information on medicinal uses of related plants elsewhere in the world.
FOOD: Nicholas (1817) ate berries of a tree, whose description fits the pūriri, which he found 'very bitter and disagreeable.' Considered poisonous by Māori he was with (p.217)
DYES: Heartwood, when treated with alkaline solutions produces a brilliant yellow dye (Kelly 1866).
Bark gives a brown dye, converted into a good yellow by mixing with dye from tānekaha (Bretts Guide 1883 ; White, quoted in Aston 1918b, from ms. in Dominion Museum)
Dyeing properties investigated by Perkin 1898. Pure yellow tones obtained (See Aston 1918b)
DOMESTIC: Among Ngāpuhi, wedges made from pūriri for tree felling (Best 1925).
Wallace 1989 found a bowl, 4 fernroot beaters, a maul, 4 paddles, an adze helve and socket, a spade blade, a kō and 2 hoto made from pūriri among museum artefacts he tested.
CONSTRUCTION: Timber tree. Ship's knees, piles, fencing (Colenso 1869a) (N.B. Details on colonial timber uses generally not recorded in this database).
''the New Zealand teak; the most durable of all the timber trees in this country.''(Taylor 1870)
Especially suitable for making a stockade- durable, has very little sapwood, not so readily destroyed by fire as tōtara. Difficult to work. (Best 1927).
CHEMISTRY: Chemical compounds listd in Cambie 1976, 1988 with references.
LINK WORDS: toxins