Māori Plant Use

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Plant Use Details 

Marattia salicina. Para. King fern.
FAMILY: Osmundaceae
BOTANICAL NAME: Marattia salicina
PREVIOUS NAMES: Marratia fraxinea
MĀORI NAME: PARA, para tawhiti or paratawhiti (Taylor 1847, 1855 records name as paratawiti), para reka or parareka; taro para - sometimes recorded as para taro (Best 1908, 1942); uwhi para, uhipara (Taylor 1847 records name as uwipara).
COMMON NAME: horseshoe fern; king fern
MEDICINAL: 'The root .. is also a very good remedy in diarrhoea cases - one ordinary root being enough, when baked or boiled, to cure the severest attack.' (O'Carroll 1884)
The 'horseshoes' cut from the rhizome were baked or boiled and were a good remedy for diarrhoea (W. Northwood, pers. comm. cited in Brooker, Cambie and Cooper 1987, p.73)

See Riley 1994 for information on medicinal uses of related plants elsewhere in the world.
FOOD: '... the root is roasted and is considered a great delicacy' (Taylor 1847)
Large swellings at base of stem eaten by Māori (Kirk, in Taylor 1870 ; Colenso 1869a, 1881 ; Taylor 1855).
Described by Best 1903 as follows: 'Para taro. - This is unknown to me. It is no longer found here, though said to be still found growing in the wild country up the Waioeka River. It was formerly eaten. It is said to have leaves something like those of the nīkau, but small'. In supplementary notes Best says, 'The correct name is taro para. It grows in the bush, and the edible tubers (?) form a clump. They are like taro in appearance, and were cooked for a long time in a steam-oven'
'It is said by the Māoris to have been the food of the warriors going to battle to make them very strong.' (O'Carroll 1884)
Occasionally planted in North Island. Rhizome furnished a small amount of food. Varying comments on its palatability. (Taylor 1870, Best 1942)
'The Māori means this root, when he says that he always had potatoes in New Zealand. The rhizome was a rough shaped tuberous mass of fleshy roots which were cooked and eaten. This tuberous mass was separated into many parts and planted' (Makereti 1938)
'This edible was pinkish or pale purple when cut, solid, tough, almost tasteless, with a slightly bitter flavour.' (Potts 1879)
TRADITIONS: Tradition on bringing of para to New Zealand in Colenso 1882; Te Rangi Hiroa 1949,White 1887; Vol IV)