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Healing Leaves - New Zealand's Kumarahou Medicinal Plant

New Zealand's sub-tropical flora comprises a unique collection of plants with exceptional healing qualities. One of these, Kumarahou, is well known to Northern Maori for its multitude of medicinal properties.

Although known as poverty weed, the native plant kumarahou is anything but an ineffective weed. It is renowned for its medicinal qualities amongst Northern Maori and has quite a history for the early settlers of northern sub-tropical New Zealand. Like many other plants in Aotearoa/New Zealand, the flowers of the Kumarahou plant are small and bloom in spring with golden yellow petals. The leaves have prominent veins and soft, white tangled hairs on the underside. The name ‘poverty weed’ actually comes from the shrubs ability to grow in poor clay soils. Centuries ago, Northern Maori discovered that the Kumarahou leaves contain rich healing properties, and these were well utilized for Maori Rongoa (medicine) by the Tohunga who are the sacred healers. The Tohunga understood that each part of a plant had its own unique healing properties, and these could treat a variety of internal or external ailments. The parts of the plant needed for a remedy were picked according to strict Maori Tikanga (protocol), for example at a certain time of day or night. The Kumarahou leaves were utilised in a number of quite distinct ways. The plant was an important remedy for chest complaints and for this treatment the leaves were picked and immersed in boiling water. This liquid produced from the boiled leaves was then given for illnesses such as bronchitis, colds and asthma. While a bath in this liquid extract was also a treatment for skin disorders, especially for children. Traditionally this extract was kept in gourds and in later years in bottles. It lasted a long time before deteriorating, unlike other decoctions which did not last so long. Northern Maori often collected Kumarahou leaves for steam baths. A hot bath full of the leaves was a treatment for kidney complaints. Maori Tohunga are the sacred keepers of Rongoa knowledge and this expertise and understanding of the complexity of plants can be seen in the following remedy. Only the soft white hairs on the underside of the kumarahou leaves was rubbed off and boiled, and this solution was then applied to wounds as a soothing and healing agent. For the early colonists of 19th Century New Zealand another name for Kumarahou was “Gumdiggers’ Soap”. Initially a lot of the land was densely forested, and little had been cleared for farmland. There was not much farm-work for these early European settlers so they found work digging for the gum of ancient Kauri trees in the gum fields of the north. Many of these gumdiggers were Dalmatians which is now a part of Croatia. They were taught the secret of the Kumarahou’s yellow flowers from local Maori, who showed them that when the flowers are rubbed together with water they produce a soapy lather – and so the term gumdiggers soap arose. Kumarahou is a versatile plant, with a long history of medicinal useArticle Search, and of importance for Tohunga today. It is one of New Zealand’s valuable healing plants that present-day skin care and herbal remedy companies are slowly rediscovering.

Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


When I learnt that New Zealand's native plants have remarkable healing properties I wanted to know more. My website tells you all about New Zealand native bush healing. http://www.purecurenz.com



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