Māori Plant Use

   Skip Navigation Links
Copyright © 2021

Plant Use Details 

Pittosporum eugenioides. Tarata. Lemonwood. Main reference.
FAMILY: Pittosporaceae Pittosporum family
BOTANICAL NAME: Pittosporum eugenioides
COMMON NAME: lemonwood; white māpau Buchanan 1869
MEDICINAL: Resin mixed into a ball with gum of sow-thistle and chewed (Colenso 1869b).
Resinous, balsamic gum - used for bad breath (Brett's Guide 1883; Goldie 1905).
Masticatory (Best 1942).
Leaves chewed into a paste to cure raw places on a saddle-sore horse (Cowan 1930).
Related pharmacology in Brooker, Cambie and Cooper 1987.
See also Riley 1994 for information on medicinal uses of related plants elsewhere in the world.
DOMESTIC: Richard Taylor recorded an account of the visit of a ship commanded by 'Rongotute' (pre-Cook). The informants said it was the first time they had seen iron. A description is given of fixing spike nails 'on a handle like a native adze which was beautifully carved and ornamented with peices of shell and dogskin and smeared over with the resin of the Tarata .. which when it hardened so gums the lashing together that it cannot shrink'. (Taylor MSS, notebook 7:113, in Richards 1993)
NB. Taylor says tarata is Pittosporum crassifolium, but P. crassifolium is karo. It is P. eugenioides that has the properties described. (Ed.)
CHEMISTRY: An ornamental tree, producing turpentine (Taylor 1855)
Chemical compounds listed in Cambie 1976 with references. Essential oil contains nonane.
PASTIME: Wood used to make trumpets, gummed together with glue from tarata (Mair, in Best 1925).
SCENT: Gum used to perfume tītoki and kōhia oil (Colenso 1869a)
Used in recipe for scent. See Aciphylla. (Brett's Guide 1883).
Leaves and especially gum used for scent (Best 1899, 1908, 1942).
Description of bird-skin sachets used and process to obtain gum in Best 1909.
''The leaves, when bruised and mixed with fat, are used by Maoris as a perfume... Bark exudes a resin'' (Buchanan 1869)
''The flowers are highly fragrant, and were formerly mixed by the Maoris with fat and used for anointing their bodies'' (Cheeseman 1925; Kirk 1889) (N.B. Best 1942: Most informants said gummy exudation from trunk used. No mention of flowers).