Hangehange is one of the most palatable forest greens with a slight woody aftertaste! We value eating our native forest kai, especially when we are spending the day out on the land.
Hangehange is a native plant with the scientific name Geniostoma ligustrifolium. A bushy shrub with bright, shiny light green leaves, it is mainly found in lowland and coastal forests. It is well-known for its sweet fragrance from small green-white flowers during flowering in late koanga.
The bright lime green shiny, pointed oval leaves are 4-8 cm long and are soft and thin, showing a "fresh" look in a coastal forest garden. The flowers give off a distinctive vanilla or hyacinth scent, which in evenings or still weather, hangs in the air. The black fruit develops in late summer in a dry black capsule, splitting in two, revealing the small orange seeds.
Hangehange leaves are used as a flavouring in our Māori cuisine. Hangehange leaves are used to wrap the roots of kūmara and cabbage tree, which are then cooked in a hangi; the leaves impart a distinctive flavour to the meal. The bark also has several uses too. A lotion made from the sap was used to treat children’s sores and itchy skin and it can also be beaten to a pulp to produce a black dye.