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Common Name: Karamu
Coprosma robusta is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 5.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
New Zealand - North, South and Chatham Islands, south to latitude 45°south.
Lowland forest and shrubland, especially on alluvial soils[
]. Found from sea level to 1200 metres, it is often found where the soil is poor or swampy or where conditions are windy or cold[
Requires a moist, very well-drained neutral to slightly acid soil in full sun or light shade[
]. Succeeds in most soils[
]. In its native New Zealand, this is a tough plant that will grow in difficult conditions, being wind hardy and frost tolerant when mature[
]. It tolerates full sun and shade equally well[
Somewhat intolerant of frost, this species is only likely to succeed outdoors in the mildest areas of Britain[
]. Plants are fairly hardy in Essex according to another report, which says that they are worthy shrubs for a woodland garden[
There are some named forms, selected for their ornamental value[
Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[
Plants are tolerant of heavy clipping or pruning[
Plants are normally dioecious, though occasionally the plants produce a few flowers of the opposite sex before the main flowering and a few hermaphrodite flowers are sometimes produced[
]. Male and female plants must usually be grown if seed is required.
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. The fruit is freely borne, it is sweet but has little flavour[
]. The fruit has a bitter flavour[
]. The orange fruit is about 9mm long x 5mm wide[
The roasted seed is a coffee substitute[
]. It is said to make an excellent coffee, though the seeds are rather small[
A concoction of boiled leaves and twigs has been used to treat wounds that are not healing[
The decoction of the leaves has been drunk in the treatment of kidney troubles[
A yellow dye is obtained from the wood, it does not require a mordant[
This species is one of the most useful plants for controlling soil erosion - it has been called the soil conservation workhorse[
]. It is suitable for general revegetation on bare infertile soils and provides good shelter for other more sensitive plants[
]. Early growth is fast, so it provides good rapid shelter for other plants, whilst its dense, fibrous root system makes it good for stabilising soil[
Seed - probably best sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse or cold frame[
]. Sow stored seed in spring in a cold frame[
]. Germination can be slow, often taking more than 12 months even when fresh seed is used[
]. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out into individual pots. Grow on the plants for at least their first winter in a greenhouse and plant out in late spring or early summer. Give the plants some protection from the cold for their first winter outdoors[
Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, autumn in a frame.