Sunday, February 15, 2009
Kowhai is the Maori word for yellow. It thus gives its name to the yellow-flowered Kowhai tree – New Zealand’s national flower. Sophora Microphyllais is the most common of the 8 species of NZ Kowhai and the tree - especially the bark and seeds - are poisonous. The tree flowers in a halo of yellow every spring and its flowers attract the kereru (wood pigeon) and the tui, which fly for miles to savour its nectar. According to Maori lore, the spring flowering marks the time for planting kumera (sweet potato); and in early times Maori used the hard durable wood for paddles and adzes; the bark for poultices to dress wounds and tumours; bark infusions for internal pains, bruises and broken limbs; and the wood ash to treat ringworm.