Koromiko is a flowering plant that’s very popular with native butterflies and bees. Its white flowers can be up to 20 cm with splashes of purple or violet and are produced at the growing top for display above the rest of foliage. Flowers appear during summer and autumn but can be all year round in good environments.
More than a beauty, Koromiko is a traditional rongoa that our ancestors used. For the cure of diarrhea & dysentery and to restore regular bowel movements & induce hunger, the young leaves were chewed (but not swallowed). Koromiko was also given to wahine (women) prior to childbirth to bring an easy and rapid birth.
During World War II, dried Koromiko leaves were sent to New Zealand troops to treat dysentery. The fresh leaves were bruised and used as a poultice for wounds, ulcers, and venereal diseases, or they were steeped in water and used as a mouthwash or gargle.
To make steam bath treatment for broken bones, wet branches of koromiko can be thrown in a fire with whau and karamu.
Koromiko’s main active constituents are called tannins, which are astringent. They tighten tissues, dry up secretions, help to stop bleeding and help to keep infections contained. Tannins also have anti-inflammatory qualities, which enhance their soothing effect.