I have Kanuka outside my front door and it’s just starting to bloom…
It’s my visual reminder that community is important:
Things I have learnt from my Kanuka:
• It blooms in bunches, unlike other plants that most of the flowers bloom all at once… the bunches then spread their colour throughout the rest of the tree.
It taught me: find a bunch of people… Bloom in bunches, be positive and add colour to your community… the rest of the tree will follow
• The leaves are soft to touch, unlike the more popular cousin Manuka who has prickly leaves, Kanuka is soft to touch.
It taught me: Be kind, be soft to the touch for those who are in your community. More popular people may be prickly, you don’t have to be.
• It’s pretty sturdy… often when there is a forest fire Kanuka is one of the first trees to come back up… this helps create a canopy and protection for our wildlife.
It taught me: when everything around seems burnt to the ground… be Kanuka, be the canopy in the community you are planted in
• Has a very hard timber… Maori used to use it for digging tools, for weapons such as taiaha, tewhatewha, and koikoi.
It taught me: be strong, because you may be someone else’s strength and protection
• It burns really well… in fact in NZ it used to be the premier fuel wood in NZ and there is evidence that it was carted long distances to help provide warmth.
It taught me: If you have warmth that you can add to this cold world, people will want to share it.
• Medicinally the leaves can be used to make a “tea” which, when strong, has emetic qualities; when weak it can be a replacement for conventional tea. The shoots and capsules when chewed will relieve dysentery while the inner bark can be boiled and used as a mouthwash and to treat mouth and eye troubles.
It taught me: you can offer someone comfort (tea), help them deal with their crap, and help them find the words they are looking for all from the same source.
• When Kanuka is removed (often to make room for pasture as it’s often seen as a unwanted shrub) – it stops the regeneration of forests.
It taught me: Just because it looks like an unwanted shrub, when you remove it it affects a whole ecosystem
• It’s often susceptible to a blight that coats its stems and prevents photosynthesis. This means it has to be treated a couple of times a year with conqueror oil.
It taught me: That although our tree is really amazing in so many ways, if we don’t look after it will die.