The Science of Nature: Horopito - Pseudowintera colorata
Name: Pseudowintera colorata
Common Name: Horopito, Pepperwood, Bush Pepper
A large bush or small tree growing up to 2.5 metres, having small yellow-green leaves with red blotches. New Pseudowintera colorata leaves in the spring emerge in bright red colouration and all leaves have a hot peppery taste when consumed.
Horopito is one of the world's oldest flowering plants. It is particularly unusual in that its flowers come directly off the older stems rather than from among the leaves.
It is a very slow growing plant that lacks the specialist water conducting tubes found in nearly all other flowering plants so it thrives in in high rainfall areas of both mountainous and coastal New Zealand as far south as Raikura/Stewart Island.
Traditionally, Horopito was used by early New Zealanders as a treatment for cuts, bruises, wounds, chaffing on the skin as well as skin diseases such as ringworm, candida albicans or even for STI's. Although these days, we recommend playing it safe. Horopito was also reportedly used to help with ailments of the gut and pain, earning it the nickname of "Maori Painkiller".
In fact, though Horopito's intense selection pressure evolved a broad set of antibacterial, antifungal, insecticidal and anti-parasitic defence properties.
Due to its wet environment, Horopito is particularly susceptible to fungal attacks and is fed upon by various insect species. Across over 65 million years of this intense selection pressure, a built-in chemical defence system of potent efficiency and bioactive properties evolved to protect the plants. The main biologically-active chemical component isolated from Horopito is polygodial which coincidentally tastes like delicious hot pepper as well as working as a fantastic antioxidant and conditioning agent in our Gameface Moisturiser.
To get the benefits of Horopito, leaves may be crushed or bruised then applied directly to the skin, held inside the mouth, the leaf juice extracted then consumed directly or leaves steeped in hot water and consumed as an extraction. Alternatively, try our Gameface Moisturiser