Māori Plant Use

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Plant Use Details 

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Arthropodium cirratum. Rengarenga. Renga lily. Main reference.
FAMILY: Laxmanniaceae
BOTANICAL NAME: Arthropodium cirratum
MĀORI NAME: RENGARENGA, māika ka (Williams 1971), māikaika (Makereti 1938), marowarakihi (Taylor 1855).
COMMON NAME: renga lily
MEDICINAL: Used for poultices (Yate, quoted in Bell 1890).
Roots scraped, roasted, beaten to pulp and applied warm to unbroken tumours and abcesses (Colenso 1869a).
Bases of leaves used as poultice for ulcers (Kirk, in Taylor 1870).
Root heated and applied to abscesses or tumours (Servant 1973 ; NB - Simmons in editing the text calls rengarenga Tetragonia expansa, New Zealand Spinach, but in this instance it is more likely to refer to Arthropodium)
Related pharmacology, see Brooker, Cambie and Cooper 1987.
FOOD: '.. the root is large and fleshy, and is eaten.' (Taylor 1847). Also in Taylor 1855.
Roots eaten after cooking in hangi (Colenso 1869a, 1881; Kirk, in Taylor 1870; Best 1942).
Colenso 1881 suggests it may have been cultivated. 'The plant grows to a very large size in suitable soil and when cultivated in gardens. From this circumstance, and from having not unfrequently noticed it about old deserted residences and cultivations, I am inclined to believe that it was also cultivated.'
CONSTRUCTION: Inspiration for a carved pattern (kowhaiwhai) in meeting houses (Colenso 1892b)