Māori Plant Use

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Plant Use Details 

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Melicytus ramiflorus. Māhoe. Whitey wood.
FAMILY: Violaceae Violet family
BOTANICAL NAME: Melicytus ramiflorus
MĀORI NAME: MĀHOE, hinahina, moeahu (all in Wiiliams 1971); Buchanan and Anderson give hinahina as a South Island term; inaina, inihina (Chatham Islands - Beever 1991)
COMMON NAME: whitey wood
MEDICINAL: Inner bark scraped, used to cover diseased skin. Juice expressed over sores (Te Rangi Hiroa 1910).
Put about a pint of water into a billy. Add the leaves - a handful. Boil for about 20 minutes. Strain, bottle, cork, label. For rheumatism, bathe the affected part twice a day. For scabies ('hakihaki'), boil the leaves and apply. Bandage. (P. Smith 1940).
Inner bark of māhoe frayed and used as a pack for burns (S. Collier 1941).
FOOD: Foliage eaten by cattle, horses (Kirk, in Taylor 1870 ; Kirk 1889 ; Buchanan 1869)
DYES: Ashes of Cordyceps robertsii sometimes mixed with the black juice of māhoe berry for tattooing (Colenso 1869a).
DOMESTIC: Charcoal used for gunpowder (Kirk 1889).
In fire lighting by friction, used as the base wood (Taylor 1870, McNeill 1990).
Among museum artefacts he tested Wallace 1989 found a maul made of māhoe. The wood is very light but was found waterlogged in a swamp. It may have been kept wet to increase its density and thereby its usefulness (p.226).
TOXINS: Mahoe is reported to contain an opossum toxin (Department of Scientific and Industrial Research Chemistry Div. report, 1979, cited in Brooker, Cambie and Cooper 1987)
TRADITIONS: In the North, used ceremonially (with supplejack) for firing bracken, before collecting fernroot (Colenso 1881).
Tradition of Maui searching for trees to put fire into. White uses name hinahina (White 1887; Vol II)