Pseudowintera colorata (horopito, pepper tree)
Pseudowintera colorata, commonly known as horopito pepper tree, is found in forests throughout New Zealand, usually as part of regenerating bush. In most gardens, it grows very slowly into a bushy shrub of 2-3m height. The colourful leaves are leathery, narrow and arrowheaded. Fresh growth is red, and mature leaves are yellowish green, often mottled or with a splash of red.
The underside of the leaf are a silvery purple and the crushed leaves are aromatic. Horopito makes a stable and colourful garden plant, and it is worth planting strongly coloured forms.
Growing conditions for horopito
It prefers a good soil and although it can tolerate quite dry conditions it does appreciate watering during dry spells. Grows in sun or semi-shade but better foliage colour will be produced in and open situation.
Propagation by seed or cuttings.
- The medical record that dates back to 1848 states that Horopito is useful for skin diseases such as ring worm or for venereal diseases.
- The leaves can be chewed or prepared as a tea.
- The leaves and bark are fragrant rich and used for diarrhea.
- Since it cures stomach ache it is popularly called as “Maori Painkiller” and “Bushman’s Painkiller.
- The barks were used as a substitute for quinine during 19th century.
- The patented medicine namely Kolorex has Horopito in it. The primary cause of peppery taste is the chemical compound polygodial.