Matagouri/tūmatakuru, or wild Irishman as it is sometimes known, is a spiny tangled shrub with long thorns that is common in the project area.
It is a slow growing bush, and it’s thought some plants on undisturbed river terraces could be as old as 100 years. The thorns were used by early Māori as tattooing needles when no other materials were available. The spines can be several centimetres long and the flowers make very good honey. It can grow up to six metres high.
Matagouri is similar to plants like peas and beans, in that it has special micro-organisms on its roots that enable it to take nitrogen from the atmosphere. This ability to ‘fix nitrogen’ means it can live in relatively unhospitable habitats. It also benefits other plant species by enriching the soils around them.