Ripogonum scandens (Supplejack vine)
Scientific name: Ripogonum scandens
Common Name: Supplejack, kareao, Pirita
Supplejack is the most common vine in lowland forests. Its dark brown stems often form impenetrable thickets. In its first years it resembles a small shrub, but in its fourth season, when it is about 50 centimetres tall, its stem tip starts to spiral anticlockwise. The stem twines around any support it finds. In summer supplejack tips grow 5 centimetres a day and soon climb up into the forest canopy. When the stems are exposed to full light, they produce non-twining leafy stems that bear flowers and fruit The Maori used a concentrated decoction of the supplejack root has a sweetish sarsaparilla-like scent and flavour and is soothing to the throat. It was also useful in treating bowel complaints, fever, rheumatism and skin diseases. The edible small berry is dry and insipid but the cooked young shoots reportedly taste like fresh asparagus. The sap is also edible.
Ripogonum scandens vine
A tangle of supplejack vines