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Common Name: Toetoe
Cortaderia richardii is a Evergreen Perennial up to 1.80 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of materials..
New Zealand - South Island.
While generally classed as a coastal plant, it will grow from sea level to an altitude of 600 metres or so, generally on the edges of swamps or streambanks[
A fairly easy plant to grow, requiring a sunny position in any reasonably fertile, well-drained soil[
]. Tolerant of strong winds, even those carrying salt[
]. Often grows on sand dunes in New Zealand[
This species is not hardy in all parts of Britain. It is tolerant of light frosts, but prefers an essentially frost-free environment[
A long-lived plant[
Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits[
A dioecious species - both male and female forms must be grown if fruit and seed are required[
]. The inflorescence on the male plant is rather erect whilst it has wide spreading branches on the female[
The seed heads are astringent and have been used on fresh wounds to stop bleeding. Other medicinal uses include the treatment of diarrhoea, kidney complaints and burns[
Plants can be used to provide shelter in exposed conditions, to minimise stream bank erosion, and can be planted to help maintain the stability of sand dunes[
Maori used the toetoe leaves to make baskets, kites, mats, wall linings and roof thatching[
]. It was also used to make containers to cook food in hot springs. The flower stalks were also useful - as frames for kites, and in tukutuku panelling[
Seed - surface sow early to mid spring in a greenhouse. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 3 weeks at 15°c. Keep the soil moist. The seed has a short viability[
]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
Division in late spring[
]. It can be very difficult to obtain divisions from this plant because they tend to be very large and to be very close to the main clump. We have found it best to use a sharp spade to cut into the main clump and break off the divisions. These are then potted up in light shade in a cold frame and are planted out once they have rooted well and are in active growth.