Kawakawa

Macropiper excelsum

A shrub with aromatic, heart-shaped leaves, that grows widely in coastal lowlands.  Also known as Pepper Tree. The spicy leaves are highly valued for relieving bronchial complaints when boiled in water. To make a pleasant tea, or for use as a general tonic, it’s best to dry the leaves first. Good for relieving indigestion.  The fruits and leaves were chewed for toothache. The leaves can also be put into hot water, bruised, then used as a poultice on cuts, boils and sores, bruises and to relieve neuralgic pain. Once commonly used in steam baths for rheumatic and arthritic pains.  As a herb, the leaves can be used to infuse desserts such a custards and creams, and used i nsavory dishes. The flesh of the ripe orange fruits is quite sweet, though the seeds are too pungent. Frost tender, but can be grown in the protected understorey of a food forest. Height to 4m, often lower. Available in 2014.

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