Plant Profile: No 27 Karaka
No 27 Karaka - Knowledge
Karaka is a medium-sized tree, up to 15 metres tall, with thick leathery leaves about 20cm long that have a glossy surface. It has small green flowers which are followed in Autumn by large berries that turn bright orange as they ripen. The word Karaka translates to ‘orange’ in English.
The berries were highly important to Maori as a food source and were deemed so valuable that they are one of the few trees that were cultivated by Maori for their fruit. Karaka grows abundantly in coastal and lowland forests in both the North and South Islands of New Zealand and you can easily plant it in your home garden with a little frost protection to get it underway.
Enticing but toxic
The flesh of the berry can be eaten raw but the kernel contains an alkaloid ‘karakine’ which makes them bitter and highly toxic. To prepare the berry for eating, they were soaked in water and then steam baked. Finally they were washed to remove the fibrous husk around the kernel, removing all the toxins. The berries were then dried and stored and subsequently steamed again when required and the kernels were ground into a flour and baked into a bread.
The Kereru, New Zealand Wood Pigeon, loves to eat the Karaka berry and is the only remaining endemic bird capable of swallowing this large fruit and dispersing the seeds intact.
A Tree with a Story to Tell and Knowledge to Share
In Maori lore, it is believed that the Karaka tree was brought to Aotearoa by the great Polynesian explorer Kupe. He sailed from his home in Hawaiiki in pursuit of his nemesis, Muturangi, an enormous octopus. Their epic battle led Kupe to the shores of Aotearoa. He travelled extensively around both islands and returned to his home to share the story of the great land he had discovered.
It is said that Kupe planted Karaka seeds at a pa named Matangi-reia on the South side of the Patea river in Taranaki to provide food for the people that he knew would follow in his footsteps. The wise Kupe was able to pass on the wisdom of his experience and in doing so enabled others to make practical use of it for generations to come.
Karaka Deva’s Blessing
I bring the gift of knowledge. Through me you discover the grain of truth in all beliefs using the power of positive thought to light the road ahead.
First Light® No 27 Karaka is the Knowledge essence. This flower essence helps you to know that each day brings opportunity and restores a sense of faith even in the face of difficulty. It is helpful for those who have wisdom to share and who want to practically apply what they have learned. It is useful for deep thinkers and those who want to be more receptive to higher thought processes.
Easily discouraged and depressed; pessimistic; melancholy; dejected; can’t see the meaning in anything; depression over a known cause; sceptical; doubting; lacks faith because there is no perceived meaning in life.
Knowledge; the philosopher; deep thinker; knows in one’s heart everything will work out; serious study; philosophical interests; receptive to spiritual beliefs or higher knowledge.
This article contains extracts from The Sacred Plant Medicine of Aotearoa Volume 1 by Franchelle Ofsoské-Wyber.