The pūtawa fungus feeds on the wood of living beech trees in Tāne-mahuta. Its fruitbodies are bracket shaped and often form high up on trunks. They grow quickly to a large size, but only last a few weeks to months before becoming old and falling. When collected on the ground, they need to be dried out before they can be used.
For medical use, pūtawa was cut into flexible strips and used to surround and protect wounds. A hole larger than the wound was cut in the strip, and the pūtawa was tied in place as a protective pad.
You can learn more about our ancestors’ use of this fungi in Māori knowledge and use of fungi.
IMAGE: Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research