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Tutu - Toxic

Tutu (Coriaria arborea & sarmentosa). TOXIC, Beware.

Every NZ forager should learn to identify Tutu, as most of the plant is extremely poisonous, causing paralysis and death.

The leaves, unripe berries, skins, flowers and seeds are highly toxic, with a poison called tutin.

The juice of very ripe berries and sometimes the leaves are used by herbalists and Rongoa practitioners to treat skin conditions topically, however I strongly urge you not to try this at home (and never take any part internally).

Honey can be poisoned by bees feeding on the homeydew of sap sucking insects that live on tutu. In fact all honey for sale in NZ must be tested for traces of tutu, and if present cannot be sold (as is).

Tutu is a nitrogen fixing, regenerative plant which often covers bare ground. It grows into a branching shrub. The cross section of stems are square. The leaves grow in opposite pairs or 3's which are 4-5cm long and dark green with shiny upper sides. Leaves have a distinct palmate vein pattern. The flowers and berries grow in distinctive pendulums which hang down from the branches.

It's a good idea to teach this plant to your kids and ensure that they don't touch or eat any part of it.