1955 patent uses mamaki as plant preservative

mamaki plant preservative patent
Arizona Parrot/flickr

Mary Rogers of Hilo, Hawaii sure took her plants seriously. In 1952 she applied for a patent on “Process and Preservative for Treating Cut Plants” which was granted in 1955. The procedure she describes, which includes a complex process for which she was granted a previous patent, leaves you wondering who would ever go through all the trouble to figure this out. And who would consider it valuable enough to repeat, much less patent. 

The affair involved boiling mamaki leaves and seeds to make the first preservative. But wait! You also had to boil a gallon and a half of mamaki branches so the liquid would be available as the second preservative. Fortunately, the two preservatives were very concentrated because only a teaspoon of each was good for a gallon of water in which the plants were immersed.

Unfortunately, the patent doesn’t tell us how much longer the freshness of Ms Roger’s precious ferns lasted after the mamaki treatment, but it seems certain that it must have been quite significant considering all the effort involved.

We make light of the process, but it does cause one to wonder about the compounds and characteristics of the mamaki brew that resulted in the preservation of the plants. Antimicrobials? Minerals? Antioxidants almost certainly. And could a person expect similar results through regular consumption of mamaki?

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