Māmaki is a valuable native shrub. This species is both variable and beautiful. Leaf size, stem diameter, color, leaf texture, vein color, and leaf color can differ between plants. However, fruit always looks the same, no matter the māmaki plant. Both female and male flowers are insignificant. Following female flowers, white berries are born in pairs off the stem. Inside are tiny black seeds. There are 100’s of seeds per plant, maybe 1,000’s. Although a member of the Nettle family, it does not produce stinging hairs. Like most native species, mamaki lost its defenses during the long process of evolution.
Māmaki grows in a wide range of environments, full sun or full shade. It does best with organic material, mulch, and regular water. It doesn’t transplant very well. So it’s best to start seeds in the intended planting place. That way the roots won’t get disturbed during transplanting. Mash up the fruit in a plastic bag to separate the seeds from the fruit, then disperse. Make it fun for the whole family by adding water and loading the seed/fruit water mixture to a spray gun! Or start seeds in a big pot, and don’t let your plant get root-bound. Mamaki is very sensitive after transplanting. Keep it in part shade while it recovers. B Vitamins will help your plant adjust to its new habitat.
Leaves are medicinal in tea, said to be good for high blood pressure, cholesterol, and good sleep with dreams. New leaf buds can be eaten as a tonic. The fruit is used as a mild laxative. A form of kapa was made from mamaki, often mixed with wauke, and resulted in a brownish kapa cloth. A fast-growing species, mamaki, is a vital understory plant. The leaves will block the sun preventing undesirable plants from germinating. Mamaki is excellent for a butterfly garden, kapa garden, or habitat restoration.
Māmaki is especially prized for attracting two endemic butterflies (the Kamehameha butterfly and the Koa butterfly) and non-native butterflies.
- Aquatic plant
- Container plant
- Cultural significance
- Privacy / screening
- No dangers