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The classic New Zealand identification guide. Every home should have one. Buy it here.
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A practical field guide to New Zealand's native edible plants. Andrew Crowe. Our most popular book.
Macropiper excelsum Kawakawa.
The leaves of kawakawa are 5-12 cm.long. They are cordate (heart-shaped with the notch at the base)
Kawakawa occurs throughout the North Island and south to Banks Peninsula
The attractive leaf shape and form of growth make this plant a desirable plant for all ornamental gardens. Kawakawa is claimed to have medicinal qualities. The leaf, if dried and burnt, is an insect repellent. The seed is found on soft, orange spikes that are a favoured food of many birds in late summer. The seed of Kawakawa is very small and is embedded on the soft spike. Remove these spikes and mash them up or soak overnight in water. The orange mash can be easily separated from the heavier black seeds by floating. Sow seeds on top of the seed raising media. The seeds will go through a period of after ripening and may begin to germinate 2 or 3 months after sowing.
Kawakawa makes a great tonic or bushmans tea. Pick 2 or 3 leaves and place in a cup of boiled water. Leave to infuse for a minute or two, then drink. Leave the leaf in the brew. Great for toothache and an all-round refreshing drink.
The varieties found on Northland's offshore islands have larger leaves and are glossier than mainland forms. Macropier excelsum subsp. peltatum
I recommend the following books on New Zealand native plants
100 Best NZ Native Plants for Gardens
The Reed Field Guide to New Zealand Native Trees
Trees and Shrubs of New Zealand
Gardener's Encyclopaedia of NZ Native Plants
A Photographic Guide to Ferns of New Zealand
New Zealand Trees and Shrubs: A Comprehensive Guide to Cultivation and Identification
From Weta to Kauri: A Guide to the NZ Forest
Which Native Forest Plant? (Which S.)