Horopito is one of those rare herbs that is hard to find anywhere and if you manage to find one, it will probably be among ornamental plants. This bush has very small flowers that are easy to omit but the foliage itself has a lot of n'evergreen charm all year round.
Pseudowintera colorata is native to New Zealand where it has been used in tradicinal Maori medicine for centuries and its popularity as a powerful fungicidal is nowadays growing among orthodox medicine practitioners. Reddish coloured leaves that usualy turn creamy green with age are very hot to taste and so are used in cookery as a peppery spice, hence it's often called New Zeland Pepper Tree. Its also called Mountain Horopito in order to distinguish it from Pseudowintera axillaris called Lowland Horopito, which has bigger leaves and grows larger in size. What's also interesting about it, is that it is the one of oldest plants on the planet.
CULTIVATION AND HARVESTING
A fully grown Horopito can reach almost 3m in height and 1.5 metres in width, but you can treat it as a small shrub as it is slowgrower and easy to cut. It grows well in rich compost soil with neutral or acidic pH , but it copes well even in poor sandy, rocky ground and can stand both periodic drought and excess of water in the ground. This plant can grow in full sun as well as in full shade but dosage of sunrays seems to affect colour of leaves. The more in shade the less reddish, pinky, yellow and more greeny it will be. It requires locations sheltered from strong winds, and as far as I know it does not cope well with temperatures below 0 C, but I still have my fingers crossed for Oxford Botanical Garden's atempt to grow it outdoor. Leaves can be gathered all year round but if you want to use them fresh then it has to be a young leaf. Old leaves are easier to dry and ground though.
Even though Horopito's fiercely strong taste is very different to black pepper or chilli, dried and ground leaves can be used as their substitute both in hot and cold dishes. In very small amounts taste can be quite refreshing and almost cooling, so I wasn't surprised when I found out that it is added to cookies and even ice creams. A tiny bit added to black tea gives unique taste and can be nicely invigorating.
The most important use of the plant in medicine is to fight a variety of both internal and external fungal infections. Poligodial is the compound found within the plant and is a powerfull fungicidal. For this purpose it's often combined with anise seeds becouse of strong synergestic efect. Horopito is also a general antiseptic and its used externaly on wounds and bruises, as well as in cases of skin desease such as ringworm or veneral desease. For these purposes it's applied mostly in form of infusion or maceration. Internally taking the leaves, fresh, dried or in form of water solutions is used in cases of diarrhea and stomach ache. Chewing fresh leaves or rinsing the mouth with an infusion of Horopito helps with toothache as well as with gums and mouth infections. Clinical studies proved that there are no contraindictions of useing Pseudowintera colorata . In cases of fighting serious candida albians infections a mild headache and nauseous feeling can be expierienced, as body reaction for a big amount of dead candida cells within it. Main active ingridients are polygodial, pinenes, limones, humulene, eugenol, quercetin, luteolinm and myrcene.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S003194229600427X http://www.medicaljournals.se/acta/content/?doi=10.2340/00015555-0173&html=1 http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/1958/JR/jr9580003710#!divAbstract http://www.readcube.com/articles/10.1002/jsfa.2740091108?locale=en