The Mamaki plant (Pipturus albidus) is endemic to Hawaii and is a member of the Nettle Family (Utricaceae). But unlike other varieties, they have no painful stinging hairs.
These shrubs grow in humid valleys and humid to wet forests from near sea level to over 6,100 feet.
Early Hawaiians used the māmaki wood to make clubs and kapa (Tapa) beaters (iʻe kuku). The branches were used as bait for cowries, a sea snail who’s shell is used as a trumpet.
But Māmaki itself was an important source for kapa (tapa) a traditional form of clothing worn by native polynesians made from the bark of the mulberry plant (Wauke). The sap mixed with water was used to keep the kapa wauke moist in the preparation process.
Though it was more durable than wauke, the kapa māmaki was durable only when dry. It tore like paper if got wet or was washed, whereas wauke could be washed.
The inner bark of māmaki was made into a brown colored kapa when wauke was not available. Kapa māmaki was made in the same way as kapa wauke, and the kapa quality was said to be very good and fit for a king!
It has been noted that in a well-known Hawaiian collection, it is estimated that more than a third of the kapa samples were made from māmaki.
Māmaki for tapa was mostly made on the island of Hawaiʻi. On other islands, māmaki was usually mixed with wauke when used for kapa.
ʻŌlapa bark and kūpaoa were used to scent māmaki kapa.
Traditional Medical use
Women ate māmaki fruits and seeds during the later months of pregnancy. The fruit was also used in healing sores and wounds. Mothers gave the small white fruit to children as a mild laxative or to treat ʻea (thrush). Seeds were given to infants and adults as a tonic for general debility of the body.
The leaves and bark of the two varieties, māmaki keʻokeʻo and māmaki ʻulaʻula, were consumed and recognized as “greatly desired by the Hawaiians.” There were no medical complications, with “both of them a blessing for those who are weak and frail.”
Berries were also used to dress sores and wounds.
Māmaki has a soothing effect on the nervous system in a similar way to jasmine tea and it works well for iritability.
Dried or fresh māmaki leaves generally have a pleasant aroma and taste and are used to make a mild but invigorating and healthy tea and one of few [commercially available native herbs for consumption.]
Māmaki tea has been used to help with many internal disorders for the stomach, colon, bladder, liver, and bowels.
The fruit is eaten as a laxative or for stomach, colon and digestive problems.
Infused leaves can be used in treatment for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, liver problems, depression, bladder problems, bladder infections, and PMS. However, with some people māmaki can cause mild agitation or insomnia.
The antioxidant-rich tea is full of macro and micro minerals and boasts more metabolism-boosting catechins than its green tea counterpart. It’s healing properties taste and aroma is a must have for any tea enthusiast.
 “Plants in Hawaiian Culture” by Beatrice H. Krauss, page 64.
 “Plants in Hawaiian Medicine” by Beatrice H. Krauss, pages 87, 88.
 “Hawaiian Healing Herbs” by Kalua Kaiahua, pages 15, 27.
 “Native Planters in Old Hawaii–Their Life, Lore, & Environment” by E. S. Handy and Elizabeth Green Handy, page 240.
 “Container Gardening in Hawaii” by Janice Crowl, page 51.
 “Hawaiian Herbs of Medicinal Value,” by D.M. Kaaiakamanu & J.K. Akina, page 71.
 “Pacific Tapa” by Roger Neich & Mick Pendergrast, page 91.
 “Native Hawaiian Medicine–Volume III” by The Rev. Kaluna M. Kaʻaiakamanu, page 73.
 “Medicine at Your Feet: Healing Plants of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Volume 1,” by David Bruce Leonard, page 141-142, 143.
 “In Gardens of Hawaii” by Marie C. Neal, pages 318-319.
 “Hawai’i’s Plants and Animals–Biological Sketches of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park” by Charles P. Stone & Linda W. Pratt, pages 250-251.
 “Lāʻau Hawaiʻi: Traditional Hawaiian Uses of Plants” by Isabella Aiona Abbott, page 58.
 “Ethnobotany of Hawaii” by Beatrice H. Krauss, page 152.