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New research into healing properties of poroporo

28 Feb, 2009

Source: Various

The genetic diversity and population dynamics of the poroporo plant will be investigated as part of a new research project.

Poroporo is a New Zealand native plant and a distant relative of the tomato. It thrives on disturbed ground and produces a small golden fruit, which early settlers used to make jam. It also grows in Australia and New Guinea and is widely used as a traditional medicine for treating skin disorders and arthritis. It was also used by Māori as a hormonal contraceptive.

Kawerau researcher Graeme Weavers says the poroporo appears to be in decline in New Zealand, particularly in the North Island.

“Making poroporo more available may help in restoring its use as a rongoā, or traditional herbal remedy,” Graeme says.

He first became interested in the poroporo when he was given a sample by an ecologist.

“An old kaumātua recognised the plant and said he hadn’t seen it around since he was a kid. Then I spotted it growing on a landslip in the Tarawera Forest Reserve.”

Graeme is looking at the gene flows between different populations of poroporo in the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and South Island. This includes gathering information on how the seed spreads and collecting growth data.

“If we can restore the poroporo populations on the scrubby open areas it likes, the opportunity is there to use it locally for pharmaceutical purposes,” he adds.

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