Māori Plant Use

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Plant Use Details 

Asplenium bulbiferum. Mouku. Hen and chicken fern.
FAMILY: Aspleniaceae
BOTANICAL NAME: Asplenium bulbiferum
MĀORI NAME: Whole plant: MOUKU; mouki; mauku; manamana
Young plant: tururu-mauku
Sprouts, undeveloped fronds: manehau (Best 1942), pikopiko
COMMON NAME: hen & chickens fern
MEDICINAL: An infusion of the roots was used as a wash for cutaneous complaints. (Taylor 1870)
A wash obtained from the root is used for sore eyes. (Kerry-Nicholls 1886)

Leaves contain antioxidant flavonoids (Cambie, Ferguson 2003)
See Riley 1994 for information on medicinal uses of related plants elsewhere in the world.
FOOD: Young, undeveloped fronds eaten (Colenso 1869a, 1881; Best 1903, 1908, 1942; Makereti 1938)
A favourite kinaki (relish) for potatoes. Small baskets of eel or kokopu covered with pūwhā or mauku for cooking - leaves eaten as greens (Best 1903)
The juice was drunk and the root eaten (Taylor 1870). [?? Mouku also used for king fern and the baked stem of Cordyline pumilio. Ed.]
FIBRE: In ancient times, 'the leaves of the mauku (Asplenium bulbiferum) woven into a sort of rude mat, and a very poor and perishable one it must have been. ... worn at night only, being warmed at a fire and used as a covering. They were too perishable to be worn outside.' (Best 1899: 643) [?? mauku is also Cordyline pumilio, a more likely choice for making a garment. Ed.]
CHEMISTRY: Chemical compounds in Cambie 1988, with references.
TRADITIONS: Best 1908 (p.249) records this tradition from Pio of Awa [sic]. 'Persons go to the forest to fell a tree for a canoe. The first thing is to kindle the ahi purakau . When it burns up, a chip, a piece of bark, is put on the fire, as also some mauku (a fern - Asplenium bulbiferum). The fire is kindled at the base of the tree. Then the karakia is recited ..... Then the tree is felled. Best also says 'A Ngati-Awa note in my note-book says that when a canoe was dubbed out in the forest, fronds of the mauku fern were fastened thereon, though the meaning of the act is not explained'

See also Asplenium oblongifolium
PROVERBS: Sayings in Best 1899. 'Rua-tahuna kākahu mauku' and 'Rua-tahuna paku kore'
LINK WORDS: pūhā, fern, fibre, weaving, Sonchus