Lemonwood or tarata (Pittosporum eugenioides) is common throughout the margins of the Tawa bush reserves. However, it is also growing in the community itself, (eg adjacent to the Tawa Squash Courts). Tarata is conspicuous at this time of year because of the aromatic, cream-coloured flowers
These flowers, as well as the crushed leaves, provide a distinctive citrus smell, hence the name ‘lemonwood’. This is due to the plant tissues having glands that contain an aromatic oil.
Use by Māori
In the past, Māori traditionally used the gum and crushed flowers for scent, usually mixed with oils from the tītoki tree. Gum from the bark was also used chewed as a breath freshener, while leaves were boiled and drunk as a remedy for sore throats.
Gil Roper (FOTBR Committee)