Kumarahou is flowering!! This is the ideal time to harvest our winter elixir. The flowering phase is only short. Elixirs are bitter with a sweet aftertaste, a must have for the cupboard over the colder months for chest & lung health & a potent antifungal. It reminds me a lot of my father, I pick and prepare it exactly as he did & sustainably source it from our ancestral lands.
My father would take me to pick kumarahou with him around the ngahere in Whangarei, amongst other rongoa and he would always have some hanging to dry in the shed. It's best picked when flowering, which happens after the last winter frosts. The winter elixir, we are fortunate to be fostering a growing kumarahou ngahere on the whenua and have begun to raise some seedlings.
This week I put the last of our stash into containers which is a must as tiny house people because my drying seeds, fermenting seeds, sprouting, micro-greens & everything in between can already tend to take over our house bus and camper  stay well everyone through the cold nights and turn to traditional medicine for respiratory health like this beauty.
Did you know this beautiful ornamental shrub Kumarahou was the first choice traditionally when an expectorant was needed to help with clearing the lungs?
It can help with coughs, colds, bronchitis, or any other type of respiratory complaint that requires the loosening of mucous to clear the lungs. Traditionally it was also used to treat tuberculosis and as a herb that was thought to strengthen and support the entire respiratory system.
Kumarahou is a traditional rongoa (medicine) that is still widely used today. Because of its undoubted value for lung conditions, particularly bronchitis. The flower head is crushed and mixed with a little water to produce a soapy lather. It can also be taken internally for colds and asthma.
The leaves can also be used fresh on the skin. Externally, our Maori healers make ointments from the leaves and apply to skin cancers. Leaves are steeped in hot baths for arthritis and rheumatism.