Friday 6 January 2012: KOROMIKO
Another of my Riccarton Bush Plant Series
Koromiko (Hebe salicifolia) (now Flowering in Riccarton Bush )is a native to New Zealand, It belongs to a Genus of about 90 species and is the largest plant genus in New Zealand The plants range in size from dwarf shrubs to small trees up to 7 metres, and are distributed from coastal to alpine ecosystems.
Koromiko is a plant used by the Maori for a number of medicinal purposes. It is thought to have first been discovered by settlers in the Dusky Sound during one of Captain Cook's voyages. Rongoa is the Maori term for medicines that are produced from native plants in New Zealand. The Rongoa of the Koromiko are the young leaf tips which can be chewed to relieve stomach aches, diarrhoea and dysentery. It was used extensively in the Second World War for this purpose. Dried leaves were sent to New Zealand soldiers overseas to cure dysentery, which proved very effective. The active ingredient is a phenolic glycocide. Leaves can be used as a pack on babies for skin sores. Tender leaves were picked and applied as a poultice for ulcers; this method was also used for the pakiwhara - venereal disease. Used also for headaches, kidney and bladder trouble and British cholera. An infusion of the leaf acts as a powerful astringent and if chewed can promote hunger. Because this plant was so highly regarded for its medicinal purposes, the leaves used to be stored in gourds.