Māori Plant Use

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Plant Use Details 

Prumnopitys ferruginea. Miro. Main reference.
FAMILY: Podocarpaceae
BOTANICAL NAME: Prumnopitys ferruginea
PREVIOUS NAMES: Podocarpus ferrugineus
MĀORI NAME: MIRO, toromiro (Williams 1971)
COMMON NAME: miro; black rue pine Buchanan; black pine Otago. State Conservator of Forests 1877
NOTES: Māori claim to recognize two sexes (Best 1942)
MEDICINAL: Gum used as inhalant (White 1887).
Gum used for ulcers, wounds (Goldie 1905).
Aromatic gum heated as inhalant for bronchitis (Faulkner 1958).
Suggested use during World War II of miro gum as a styptic (Wall, Cranwell 1943).
Oil from flesh of drupes given to patients recovering from fever (Goldie 1905 ; Brett's Guide 1883 ; Adams 1945)
Weak infusion of the bark for stomach-ache (Kerry-Nicholls 1886 ; Taylor 1870).
Leaves and bark used in decoction for gonorrhoea (Tūhoe) (Goldie 1905 ; Best 1906).
Used as antiseptic by bushmen (K. Pickmere; unpublished notes on Botany Division files, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Christchurch 1940. Now in National Archives).
Bark used medicinally (Best 1908)
Oil applied as insecticide (Goldie 1905 ; Brett's Guide 1883)
FOOD: ''... the flavour is rather bitter but very aromatic, resembling that of the nutmeg, it is the favourite food of the Kereru or wood pigeon.'' (Taylor 1847)
''the fruit is like a plum of a spicy flavour'' (Taylor 1870)
The aromatic fruit ''imparts an agreeable taste to the pigeon when it is in season.'' (Taylor 1855)
Red berries used for food (Colenso 1869a ; Kirk, in Taylor 1870).
Berries eaten raw (Tunuku Karetai in Beattie MS 582/E/11, Hocken Library)
DYES: Brown dye (Wall, Cranwell 1943)
DOMESTIC: Bark occasionally used to make small water vessels (W. Baucke. cited in Best 1942).
Best doubts that Māori would have barked and destroyed any miro tree that provided food for birds, they were highly prized. '... possibly they selected for barking, the toa, as he (Baucke) calls them, male trees that did not bear fruit.').
Wallace found 2 kō and 1 wakahuia made from miro among museum artefacts he tested.
CONSTRUCTION: Timber tree. Carpentry. (Details on colonial timber uses generally not recorded in this database)
CHEMISTRY: Oil occasionally expressed from the berries (Best 1942)
Chemical constituents listed in Cambie 1976, 1988 with references. (Essential oils, tannins, diterpenoids).
SCENT: Miro oil is one of the compounds in the scent 'taramea' (Brett's Guide 1883)