Māori Plant Use

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Plant Use Details 

 
Myoporum laetum. Ngaio. Main reference.
FAMILY: Myoporaceae Myoporum family
BOTANICAL NAME: Myoporum laetum
MĀORI NAME: NGAIO, kaio (South Island - Anon 1993), kaiou (southern term used by Buchanan New Zealand Exhibition 1865)
MEDICINAL: Piece of bark or very strong decoction held in mouth for toothache. Twigs, leaves - vapour bath. (Goldie 1905 ; Best 1906 ; Brett's Guide 1883 ; Kirk, in Taylor 1870).
Bark used to heal ulcers and eruptions. Vapour bath (Taylor 1848 and 1870).
In recipe for lotion applied to bruises. Juice of inner bark applied to toothache (O'Carroll 1884).
Decoction used by Mother Aubert in treatment of leprosy.
Infusion for cuts, bruises, swellings. Inner bark applied to skin disease, juice expressed over sores (Te Rangi Hiroa 1910). Used as dressing for cuts and sores (Hay 1915).
The leaves bruised and warmed to release the oil make a most effective pack for septic wounds. The drawing power is considerable. I tried it once for a poisoned heel. I have also known vets to use it for horses in this way. (K. Pickmere 1940).
Inner bark - scraped, rubbed on gums or packed in sore tooth. (Adams 1945).
Leaf buds chewed for mussel poisoning (MacDonald 1973). A preparation of ngaio leaves 'much the best thing he found for the relief of baby eczema in his two children' (Anon; Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Botany Division file 8/1/59). In the late 1930s, lotions and ointments made from ngaio leaves being sold by a pedlar (note on Botany Division file, 8/1/59).

See Riley 1994 for information on medicinal uses of related plants elsewhere in the world.
FOOD: Berries eaten, especially by children (Kirk, in Taylor 1870 ; Colenso 1869a, 1869b, 1881)
CHEMISTRY: Essential oil and compounds in wood and bark listed in Cambie 1976, 1988 with extensive references.

See also Brooker, Cambie and Cooper 1987 for notes on pharmacology, chemistry (mannitol, ngaione)
TOXINS: Juice used as insect repellant for sandflies and mosquitoes (Goldie 1905 ; Best 1906 ; Brett's Guide 1883 ; Kirk, in Taylor 1870).
Young shoots, insect repellant (Adams 1945).
Leaves, especially, poisonous to stock (Connor 1977; Aston 1923b).
In the 1860s, sometimes used effectively as a sheepdip (G. McGregor, noted on Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Botany Division file 8/1/59).
RECORD NUMBER: 1111