Karamu


Coprosma robusta, commonly known as Karamu, is a small tree or large shrub species in the Rubiaceae family. Here are just some of its special features:

  • Fast-growing shelter, hedging, and nurse plant
  • Laden with bright orange fruit/seeds January-July
  • Competes well with gorse
  • Shade tolerant
  • Suits low-frost sites
  • Evergreen
  • Great for attracting birds

We had such a nice surprise to find this small karamu growing in the maara… Earlier, we were sad that one was accidentally cut out, although we managed to salvage some for medicine. The karamu is very important spiritually for Maori and is used in many ceremonies including traditional baptism. It's especially great medicine paired with kawakawa for kidney, bowel, menstruation and bladder infections. Externally, it ‘s also great for cuts, ulcers, wounds, eczema & bruises.

This flowering plant is commonly found in coastal areas, lowland forests, or shrublands and can survive in many climates. It can grow to be around 6 metres tall and grow leaves up to 12 cm long. The fruit that Karamu produces can be eaten and the leaves are sometimes used for medical purposes.

Karamu is the tuakana tree, planted first by Tane to populate the forest, which is why we often see it as the early coloniser plant in regeneration areas. It is found all over New Zealand and is a tough plant that often grows in windy or cold conditions. Karamu has both male and female plants, which must grow near each other in order to produce berries and seeds.

Because karamu is still in the berry group, don’t overdo it if you aren’t used to forest food. Berries can stimulate concentration and have special properties that help with focusing mentally.