Māori Plant Use

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Plant Use Details 

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Pomaderris kumeraho. Kūmarahou. Main reference.
FAMILY: Rhamnaceae Buckthorn family
BOTANICAL NAME: Pomaderris spp, especially Pomaderris kumeraho. Also P. hamiltonii, P. prunifolia var. edgerleyi
PREVIOUS NAMES: Pomaderris elliptica. (Williams 1971 gives P. elliptica as name for kūmarahou. P. elliptica is Australian species, found in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania. )
COMMON NAME: gumdigger's soap; poverty weed; golden tainui
MEDICINAL: Leaves- boiled. Liquid a relief for all chest troubles - coughs, colds, bronchitis, pulmonary tb - taken internally. Beneficial effect on kidneys, in cases of heartburn (Adams 1945).
Leaves boiled, steeped in water, fluid used to relieve asthma and bronchitis (White 1887, Faulkner 1958).
Use for chest ailments suggested during World War II. Value doubted by some. (Wall, Cranwell 1943).
An excellent blood purifier; said to be effective in the cure of bronchial and tubercular complaints. I heard recently of someone using it for diabetes, with good effect. It is interesting to note that none of the other Pomaderris have medicinal properties. (K. Pickmere 1940). Recipe and doses for infusion for asthma and chest complaints. Also consumption (kohi). Put a good handful of dried leaves and young shoots into a billy. Well cover with water and boil until the liquid is a dark brownish-red. Strain and bottle. For a cough, take a teaspoonful, mix with water. For asthma, 2 tablespoons. Take 2 or 3 times a day. Sometimes sugar or peppermint added to improve the taste. Sometimes used as a bath, said to be good for the skin, especially for little children. (P. Smith 1940).
Infusion drunk as a tea for asthma (S. Neil 1941)
Kūmarahou is packed as such, and appears to contain a glucoside which is of benefit in pulmonary complaints (Given 1940)
Decoction of leaves highly valued for all chest complaints and is a mild laxative (Mason 1950)
Brooker, Cambie and Cooper 1987 state that kūmarahou mixed with other herbs, particularly koromiko, was marketed by Rev. E. Ward (1863-1934) under the name `karanui' and claimed to be a specific for tuberculosis and asthma. An ointment made from kūmarahou was sold in Auckland for skin cancer, and used as a medicine at Te Kao many years ago. Related pharmacology (ibid.).
CHEMISTRY: Chemical compounds in leaves investigated by Cain and Cambie 1959.
TRADITIONS: When kūmarahou in flower, near time to plant kūmara (Matthews 1911, Anderson 1954)
Kūmarahou is the kūmara of Raro (See Best 1903).