Pukatea Laurelia novae-zelandiae
Laurelia novae-zelandiae (Pukatea) can grow to a height of 40 m and is the only New Zealand native tree with large plank-buttresses – thin triangular flanges which extend up the trunk and along the roots to support the tree’s growth in swamp or shallow-soil areas.
L. novae-zelandiae also has a specialised respiratory root structures called pneumatophores (roots above the ground) in certain waterlogged ground or mud. Like mangroves
The tree’s trunk is clean and straight and can grow to more than 2 m in diameter.
Pukatea is found from sea level to 600 metres throughout the North Island, and in the South Island in Marlborough and on the west coast as far south as Fiordland in lowland semi-swamp and gully areas. It is common in gullies around New Plymouth.
The 4-8cm x 2.5-5cm leaves are bright green oval, grow opposite each other, are thick and leathery with coarse blunt serrations on their edges. They have a glossy top surface and are pale underneath. The young leaves are a light green and the adult leaves are darker.
It has small (6mm) green flowers on flower stalks up to 3cm long during October to November. The genus Laurelia is unusual, with both sexes separate on the same tree, and occasionally together on the same flower.
After flowering it develops urn shaped seed cases up to 2.5cm long which split and release hair-covered seeds which are dispersed by the wind.
Pukatea wood is tough but spongy, making it excellent for carving. Maori used it to carve the ornate figureheads for their waka, but it was not used for the body of the craft.
The leaves were chewed to relieve the pain of toothache and decoctions of the bark were used internally and topically for neuralgia, venereal disease and many dermatological complaints.
The inner bark contains the alkaloids pukateine and laureline, which are morphine-like in their structure and activity, although allegedly with less adverse effects.
Pukatea has strong analgesic properties making it useful in the management of severe pain. Pukateine has shown dopaminergic and antioxidant properties, implicating possible application for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
Medicinally, the bark is used
Syphilis – internally and topically
Various skin complaints, including chronic ulcers
Syphilitic & tuberculoid lesions
Red Matipo/Mapou Myrsine australis
Myrsine australis is a species of shrub within the family Myrsinaceae. It is endemic to New Zealand, which means it is unique to NZ it is found throughout the country and on offshore islands.
It has crinkly-edged leaves which make it easily mistaken for a pittosporum and reddish bark and stems. Growing to around 6 metres in height, it inhabits bush margins. The bark on a mature trunk is grey. Mapou produce very small black fruit in summer (popular with birds) these grow directly on the stem of the plant, not at the end of branches and twigs – a really good way to distinguish it from Pittosporums
Maori boiled mapou leaves to make an infusion for toothache. They also used the leaves as relief for arthritic problems, as a remedy for skin disease, intestinal worms and as a general tonic.
The branch wood was used for digging sticks and adze handle sockets.
Flavonoids including rutin
Cardiovascular disorders – varicose veins
Possible Pharmacological Actions:
Tanekaha Phyllocladus trichomanoides
Celery Pine Toatoa
Tanekaha is a slow-growing evergreen conifer endemic to New Zealand.It grows to about 20 m, with a 1 m trunk, found from North Cape to Marlborough/Nelson. Its common name ‘Celery Pine’ comes from the celery-like foliage of this graceful tree.
Like the Kauri, Tanekaha shed their lower branches, producing smooth straight trunks and knot-free timber which is sought after for its strength. Its wood is the strongest and most flexible of the native conifers. Maori used the white timber for their canoes and houses, and for koikoi (double-pointed spears). Bark from this coniferous tree was beaten in a trough of water heated with stones, to make red-brown or black dye and walking sticks were fashioned from sturdy shoots.
Its branches are very supple and do not break if bent over, making the wood ideal for any function involving bending. Early European settlers use it as yacht masts and fishing rods. The wood was also used for marine piles, bridges, railway sleepers and for props in the northern coal and gold mines.
The bark is rich in tannin, from which Māori extracted a red dye.
A phylloflavan analogue
Inositol, pinitol and other
Tanekaha was used medicinally as an astringent and antimicrobial agent by Maori people and European settlers.
Decoctions of the inner bark were used in the treatment of diarrhoea,
dysentery and internal haemorrhage
The leaves were used for scrofulous diseases
Externally, it was used as a healing remedy for burns as well as for boils, abscesses and septic infections
The anti-microbial action of tannic acid has been well documented
and it has been shown to be effective against a range of bacteria
yeasts and viruses.
The combination of astringent and antimicrobial actions makes this plant an ideal addition to mouthwash formulations. The strong
astringent action helps tighten and heal the gum tissue while the anti-microbial action helps kill the bacteria responsible for dental caries, as well as conditions such as gingivitis and periodontal disease.
There has been some in vitro tests commissioned by Phytomed on preparations containing a combination of Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) and Tanekaha have found activity against the common oral bacteria
Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus mitis,
Adverse effects: Possible tannin-mediated impairment of gastrointestinal absorption of minerals and proteins ingested within
30 minutes before or after tanekaha ingestion.
Possible temporary staining of the skin/nails following prolonged external use.