Did you know that Aruhe or Fern Root of the rahurahu plant was second only to kūmara as a kai rangatira? The fern was known as the hair of Haumietiketike.
Aruhe is the root of rārahu or rauaruhe (bracken fern), a tough ground fern with reddish-brown stems, which grows up to 2 metres tall.
Bracken fern flourishes in open woodlands where felled or burnt forest is regenerating. Māori harvested the roots and shoots throughout the year, although late spring to early summer was the optimum time. The best plants were about three years old and had rhizomes 2–3 centimetres in diameter.
This root was universally used even in districts where large crops of sweet potatoes and taro were produced. Considerable quantities of aruhe were necessarily consumed for being a great source of carbohydrates!
It is the best companion plant because it imparts good nutrients into the soil and its dried leaves are used to store potatoes and deter rodents.
We hear about the high-processing needs but at Te Rewarewa maara, we believe that with our modern kitchen implements, we can bring aruhe back to the Māori table.