The tightly coiled wild New Zealand ferns of the pikopiko are a Māori symbol for unity. The pikorua, or the two intertwined pikopiko, represent the bond between two entities and appear in art and jewelry.
Today, foragers find pikopiko shoots. They taste like green beans or asparagus, growing in damp, shady areas. The pale green fronds are often dotted with brown speckles and are most tender when their heads are tightly coiled. Once the leaves unfurl, the plant is inedible.
After correctly identifying the young fern, foragers wash, peel, and cook it by steaming, boiling, or stir-frying. The shoots can be used raw, or blended with oil and nuts to form a spread. Pikopiko is remarkably sustaining.
Pikopiko can be peeled and washed to remove the bitterness, then steamed, boiled, stir-fried, chopped and added to bread dough, blended with oil and nuts to make a spread or simply used as an attractive and delicious garnish.
Wild plant collectors should use caution when seeking out pikopiko. The risks associated with eating incorrectly identified ferns from New Zealand's bush are not worth the reward of any tasty, wild snack.
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