Whether you mark the arrival of spring by the calendar date of 1st or September or last weekend’s Vernal Equinox, this year the season seems to have burst forth with flowers and new growth all over the place. The local ducks are walking around with their baby ducklings and the tui and grey warblers have returned to our local forest.
One of the variety of flowers that have taken my notice this year are on the kūmarahou, kūmerahou or pāpapa (Pomaderris kumerahou) plant, which is native to the top half of the North Island of New Zealand. At this time of year, the plant has masses of pretty, little, creamy yellow flowers and is said to traditionally mark the coming of kūmara (sweet potato) planting season.
So often plants make themselves known just at the time of year that we need them. In spring, even though the days are getting longer, the weather is often at it’s wildest and spring colds seem to do the rounds. Kūmarahou has a long traditional use as a Rongoā and herbal medicine plant for the treatment of respiratory complaints including coughs, bronchitis and as a general tonic. It is often included in NZ made cough mixtures.
Kūmarahou has been used topically for rashes and wounds. The saponins in the plant have another useful application - by rubbing the flowers between the palms of your hands with a little water you quickly create soapy bubbles to effectively clean your hands. I remember being shown this with the leaves too in my Girl Guide days and being amazed that bubbles could appear from leaves! We told the European name was “gum diggers” soap.
Kūmarahou has also been used to make a type of home brew or paikaka by both Maori and Pākehā. There is a recipe for this in “Māori Healing and Herbal – Murdoch Riley, 2010” which sounds quite interesting. If you have tried making this, let me know in the comments whether or not it is worth experimenting with .
As always, this is general information and not to be taken as direct advice. For a more personalised approach, either click the “Book Now” button to book a consultation with me or contact your local registered Naturopath or other Health and Wellness professional
Phytomed Medicinal Herbs Ltd. (n.d). Herbal Monograph: Kumerahou (Kumarahou) (Pomaderris kumerahou: P.elliptica). Retrieved from Phytomed Medicinal Herbs Ltd: https://www.phytomed.co.nz/site/phytomed/Kumerahou%20monograph.pdf
Riley, M. (2010). Māori healing and herbal. Paraparaumu, New Zealand: Viking Sevenseas NZ Ltd.