This plant is found throughout New Zealand, predominantly in lowland swamps. The seed is currently used for oil as it is rich in linoleic acid, an ‘essential’ fatty acid. Early recordings identify a wide range of uses for harakeke, from healing burns to constipation to gunshot and bayonet wounds.
The roots are noted as being used for colds and headaches whereas the leaves are used for stomach trouble. The liquid gained from boiling the roots is apparently a good substitute for castor oil.