Hartighsea spectabilis (in Taylor)
Fishing and hunting
Long poles used as a framework in the kehe trap-net. (Te Rangi Hiroa 1926)
Used in furniture making (Colenso 1868a). (N.B. - details on colonial timber uses generally not part of this database).
"very fragrant" (Taylor 1870)
"The large leaves of this beautiful tree are extremely bitter, and may be used in the same way as Peruvian bark" (Taylor 1847).
The leaves are remarkably bitter and the infusion is used as a tonic; a weak decoction is also used by females who have lost their infants, to stop the secretion of milk (Taylor 1855)
"... called by the natives koa-koa. It is the Hartighsia spectabilis of De Candolle. It is said to possess the properties of gentian, and to have been substituted for hops in the manufacture of beer. The leaves yield a very bitter extract" (Pereira 1846)
A tonic (Colenso 1868a).
Young bark said to contain bitter principle with tonic properties allied to quinine. (Baber 1887).
Leaves, bark used in decoction for coughing. Bitter tonic, stomachic. Macerated with water to prevent secretion of milk.(Goldie 1904).
Leaves bitter. Tonic infusion used by bushmen occasionally as stomachic (Kirk 1889).
Kohekohe... infuse in boiling water .. good tonic medicine[s]" - skin diseases. (O"Carroll 1884).
An anti-galagogue (J White, quoted in Bell 1890).
Macerated leaves in hot water to make very weak decoction to stop secretion of milk. Not taken more than once a day. Tonic for invalids to strengthen stomach and allay cough. ( Brett"s Guide 1883 ; Taylor 1855, 1870; Neil 1889; Kerry-Nicholls 1886).
Leaves infused in boiling water, vapour an inhalant for colds, fever. Liquid drunk for lung haemorrhages (Adams 1945).
Helped to cure convulsions caused by eating unprepared karaka berries, or at least to help straighten limbs before death (K. Pickmere 1940).
Half fill a billy with leaves. Cover with water. Boil for about 15 minutes. For sore throats, use as a gargle. For boils, bathe the boil with the liquid. Use the boiled leaves as a poultice. Drink the liquid before meals. For coughs and women"s disorders - half a cup before meals. Pick the leaves facing the sun. (P. Smith 1940).
Infusion of leaves drunk three times daily for venereal disease (gonorrhoea). Patient also used leaves in bath (S. Neil 1941).
A decoction of kohekohe bark, manakura bark (Melicytus micranthus), puawānanga vine (Clematis paniculata), korare stalk (Phormium tenax), and kahikātoa leaves (Leptospermum scoparium) taken 3x a day before meals for female haemorrhage, bleeding piles, general blood disorders, kidney troubles and skin eruptions ; a decoction containing kohekohe bark and kareao roots (Ripogonum scandens) taken 3x daily before meals for sexually transmitted diseases (Anon; Botany Division files, Christchurch 22/15 of 8/1/59. File in National Archives).
Related pharmacology and interesting notes on chemical compounds, in Brooker, Cambie and Cooper 1987.
See Riley 1994 for information on medicinal uses of related plants elsewhere in the world.
"Te waka pukatea; te waka kohekohe. The canoe (made of the) pukatea tree; the canoe (made of the) kohekohe tree.
The wood of those trees is alike soft, and won't last long in the water; besides canoes made of them are both heavy (when water-logged) and slow.
This proverb is used of cowards." (Colenso 1879: 138)
Flower of kohekohe: kohepu