Our plants: Rangiora

Rangiora – so good they named a place after it. Or something.

Brachyglottis repanda has the largest leaves in the tree daisy family and it is these leaves, which are soft and silvery-grey on the underside, that early bushmen (and presumably the occasional woman) found so useful when, um, nature called. Yes, folks, this is the one and only “bushman’s friend”.

The undersides of the leaves can also be used as writing paper, and Maori used the leaves to wrap round wounds and ulcerated sores. They leaves are poisonous if chewed and swallowed – for humans and animals.

Rangiora, showing the front green side of a leaf and the silver underside.

Lyn McConnell, the national Floral Art Designer of the Year 2013, used rangiora leaves as a central part of her work, drying them and gluing them silver side up in an overlapping pattern.

She knew of a patch in her old home area of Waikato so went and picked about 300 leaves, mainly the top ones so they were “nice and clean”. I’ll write more about Lyn’s success soon.

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