Monday, 30 June 2014

Nature Walks at Zealandia - edible plants

The Zealandia walking group sets out to explore Zealandia every second Monday. Recently we've been lucky enough to have some experts teach us more about the plants in Zealandia.

A simple introduction to ferns by Barbara Mitcalfe and Chris Horne helped me distinguish between some of the fern species on the Te Mahanga Track.
The delightful Hen and Chickens Fern - Asplenium bulbiferum
Last Monday we had an intriguing walk led by Des Smith on Maori uses of native plants. This time I remembered to bring along something to write with and made a few notes for myself. We looked at plants that were used for their wood -Whau or their reeds - Raupo; as well as ones that were used as medicine or food. It was interesting to speculate how Maori uncovered the different uses of some of the plants.

If I'm ever lost in the bush, I'll be hoping there is plenty of Kareao (supplejack).

Kareao berries - supplejack 
I knew that the young shoots of the kareao are edible, I've even tasted them - they taste a bit like asparagus! But I didn't know that the vine holds a lot of fluid that can be used if you are out of water and at risk of dehydration, or that the berries are edible. What a useful plant! I haven't always appreciated the jungle effect of lots of kareao vines, especially if they are between me and my destination. Now I'll look at them with a new appreciation even if I'm struggling through a thicket of vines.

WARNING: always check with a reliable source before you eat a plant.