Māori Plant Use

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Plant Use Details 

Dacrydium cupressinum. Rimu. Main reference.
FAMILY: Podocarpaceae
BOTANICAL NAME: Dacrydium cupressinum
MĀORI NAME: Rimu; puaka (Arawa, in Best 1908)
Resinous heartwood: kāpara, māpara, ngāpara.
Fruit: huarangi
Black seed inside fruit: matawhanaunga
MEDICINAL: Gum is very astringent. (Best 1906).
Astringent gum used to stop bleeding from wounds (Baber 1886; Goldie 1905).
Piece of gum the size of a walnut dissolved in half-pint of water, a tablespoon taken three times a day to allay bleeding from lungs or bowels, stomach or headache. 'This I have seen used myself and can speak in the highest praise of it - it stopped a severe attack of bleeding from the lungs.' (O'Carroll 1884; see also Adams 1945)
The excessively astringent gum is used as a styptic (Mason 1941)
Bark. Decoction for wounds (with tawa and tutu) used by Tūhoe. Inner bark bruised into pulp for burns and scalds (Goldie 1905; Best 1906).
Inner bark - styptic (Bell 1890).
Infusion of bark for running ulcers, and for burns, scalds, etc. (Taylor 1870; Kerry-Nicholls 1886).
The inner bark is applied to burns and scalds and acts as a styptic (Mason 1941)
Leaves. A lotion for wounds made with rimu and tawa bark and tutu leaves, boiled together (Best 1908).
Spruce beer made with rimu and mānuka used by Captain Cook as an antiscorbutic. See recipe in Shortland 1851.
A preparation of the leaves is used for sores. (Mason 1941)

Related pharmacology in Brooker, Cambie and Cooper, 1987.
FOOD: '... this fruit is much prized by the natives, and the smallness of the size is made up by its abundance; this tree produces a resin very bitter, but eatable. The wood also possesses the same qualities, an infusion might be used for beer' (Taylor 1847)
Fruit eaten (Colenso 1869a, 1869b, 1881 ; Servant 1973 ; Best 1942).
Fruit eaten, found in abundance every other season.(Taylor 1855).
When first introduced, molasses thought to be the sap of the rimu. In boiling maize, some ashes of burned rimu or kahikatea bark are cast into the pot. This peels off the skin of the maize. Ashes of these barks used, because they do not grit between the teeth when the maize is eaten. (Best 1903).
DYES: Blue dye, kapara, prepared from soot obtained by burning heart of kahikatea and rimu trees - used for tattooing (Kerry-Nicholls 1886; process described in Taylor 1855).
Often used by tanner, valued for certain qualities of leather, but imparts a red colour to the skin (Kirk 1889)
Brown dye (Wall, Cranwell 1943)
DOMESTIC: The resin is slightly sweet and bitter, and , if wounded, emits a black bitter gum; the fragrance of the wood, when burnt as fuel, is extremely pleasant. (Taylor 1855).
Juice used as hair restorer by Europeans (Bell 1890).
Combs made from rimu (Colenso 1869a, 1869b).
Wallace 1989 found 2 fernroot beaters, 1 maul, 8 adze helves, 2 hoto, 20 combs made of rimu among museum artefacts he tested.
IIn South Westland, in the estuaries at Maitahi and Makawhio, flounders were speared in big numbers, often at night with the aid of rama (torches) made from the resinous heart of the rimu tree (Madgwick 1992)
CONSTRUCTION: Timber tree. Housing, cabinetmaking (Colenso 1869a). (N.B. - Details on colonial timber uses generally not recorded in database.)
FISHING AND HUNTING: Long war spears made from rimu. (Colenso 1869a; manufacturing process described in Colenso 1892b).
Heartwood used for making hunting spears (Matthews 1911).
Among Ngapuhi, soot from burning heartwood of rimu or kauri used mixed with shark-oil to make black paint for canoes. Timber used in canoe making. (Best 1925)
CHEMISTRY: Chemical constituents listed extensively in Cambie 1976, 1988 with references.
Essential oils, heartwood rich sources of diterpenoids. Bark rich in tannins.
PASTIME: Wallace 1989 found 5 spinning tops made of rimu among museum artefacts he tested.