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Pseudowintera colorata. Horopito. Pepper tree.

Name document

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Drimys colorata, Wintera colorata

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This shrub is one of the few species often found in heavily browsed forests. Not palatable to deer. 

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These medicinal uses also listed under P. axillaris.  Unable to  determine which species referred to. 

Leaves bruised, steeped in water. Decoction used for paipai, a skin complaint (Taylor 1870 ; Kerry-Nicholls 1886).

"aromatic and stimulant" (Taylor 1870)

Bark - substitute for quinine (Kirk, in Taylor 1870). "aromatic and pungent ... the "Winter's Bark" of New Zealand" (Armstrong 1870).

Occasionally used by settlers suffering from diarrhoea (Kirk 1889).

Sap used by bushmen for stomach ache (Goldie 1904 ; Best 1906, 1907).

Leaves - decoction called "bushman's painkiller". Chewed for toothache. Rubbed on breast when weaning infants - gives bitter taste (Best 1907, 1929 ; Adams 1945)

Excellent astringent and stimulating properties; anti-scorbutic (Faulkner 1958).

Leaves - infusion for chest ailments. A tablespoon is difficult to swallow, leaves burning sensation in throat and chest (Collier 1959).

Related pharmacology in Brooker, Cambie and Cooper, 1987.

Specific to P. colorata

Māori take leaf, chew it, apply to wounds, which heal rapidly, leaving a blue tattoo mark (Harper, quoted in Beattie MS 582/E/11, Hocken).

Anti-candida agent isolated from leaves - polygodial. Some antibiotic activity against other organisms. N.B. - no effect from P. axillaris ( Calder, Cole, Walker 1986)

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Essential oils, 29 compounds isolated. Listed in Cambie 1976, with references.

Anti-Candida agent, polygodial, isolated from leaves ( MaCallion et al, 1982).

Other compounds isolated described in Cambie 1988, with references.

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An insect antifeedant (Gerard, Perry et al 1993)

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The name 'horopito' refers to both P. colorata and the closely related P. axillaris. The medicinal notes probably refer to both species. Horopito is more commonly used these days for P. colorata - which has blotchy coloured leaves,  is more peppery and more easily recognised. Both species hybridise.

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28 May 2007
5 July 2020
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