Mamaki Fruit: Stepchild to Tea Leaves or Untapped Resource?

Mamaki Berries Mamaki plants in Hawaii seem to be in a constant state of fruit production. The berries are simply the mature stage of the flowers or blossoms. In fact, it’s easy to assume their are no mamaki blossoms or flowers…they just look like immature fruit. But a closer look at the immature fruit reveals that there are indeed scores of tiny blossoms. Each of the tiny dots on the mature fruit is a seed.

While the fruit is plentiful and easy to gather, it is rather bland and tasteless. The white color certainly indicates a lack of flavonoids which rich-colored fruit like blueberries and wolfberries have in abundance. It may also indicate a lack of nutritional value, but the jury is still out on that. On the other hand, this image may indicate they are good for the immune system…

Mamaki fruit have a texture much like raspberries and they are easy to eat by the handfuls. Many of the books that include mamaki indicate that they should be eaten conservatively, especially while pregnant. But I personally have eaten four or five handfuls as fast as I could pick them and have not noticed any negative effects. Possibly there is a loosening of the stool as one might expect from eating that many of any kind of berry. But that could be a positive thing, depending on the person.

The 1922 book “Hawaiian Herbs of Medicinal Value” describes a process in which mothers can use the berries to ease pregnancy and how the fruit can be used to prevent thrush in children. Plants in Hawaiian Medicine more or less repeated idea in 1998.

Medicine at Your Feet suggests that the berries may be used as a laxative though, as I hinted above, that effect seems to be very mild even when eating them by the handful.

Hawaii’s Plants and Animals is less charitable: “These flesh aggregations or fruits are attractive to birds but are tasteless and of little value as human food. They were used medicinally by Hawaiian’s to treat children’s mouth infections and to dress wounds.”

Mamaki Berries Mamaki Berries with Sunlight Mamaki Berries Close-up Mamaki Berries on the Branch Handful of Mamaki Berries

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