Known as Maori bush basil, this native New Zealand plant was traditionally brewed into tea to make a tonic and was used externally as an analgesic, antiseptic and diuretic.
It is usually found in damp places in the bush. The tree is from three to seven metres in height and has heart shaped leaves six to twelve centimetres in length. It has heart-shaped leaves (those covered with insect holes are the ones to harvest and are said to have more medicinal concentrations) and sweet, edible conical yellow berries which ripen in January and February.
The seeds are peppery and are used as a spice. Dried kawakawa can be used to season meat, chicken, fish and vegetables. And the fresh leaves, with thicker veins and stems removed, can be chopped and added to dishes.