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Forest Lore of the Maori

Edible Herbs

Edible Herbs

The Maori used leaves of many species as food, cooked as what we would call greens. The list of such includes many species of ferns, pohue (Calystegia sepium), raupeti (Solanum nigrum), poniu (Nasturtium palustre) pororua or rauriki (Sonchus oleraceus), rauroroa (Sonchus asper), puhatiotio, together with other plants that come under the generic term puha. G. Forster teils us of a Sonchus found at Queen Charlotte Sound in 1773 by Cook's people, and includes it among the 'excellent vegetables' that they enjoyed. Other species of puha enumerated by the Maori are:—

Raumahora Taranui
Raupara Akaaka

Many other leaves were taona, cooked in steaming-pits, by the Maori, some species only in times of stress. When our turnips were introduced the Maori gained a new food-plant, the leaves of which he continued to use after a life of wild freedom had reduced the root to a very small size. Leaves of the introduced dandelion were also used as greens, and the Maori has already a proverbial saying connected with this plant. When a person sleeps late in the morning, one remarks Kei te moe tonu te tohetaka (The dandelion is still sleeping).