Aristotelia serrata (Wineberry, Makomako)
Species: A. serrata
Binomial name: Aristotelia serrata
Common names: Wineberry, Makomako
The tree, called makomako in Maori, is common throughout New Zealand, in damp disturbed forest margins and damp river edges. It can be classified as a shrub or small tree and can grow to 10m .
Wineberry is a dioecious tree or shrub with male and female individuals; male and female flowers arise on separate plants, so both sexes are required for the production of red-black berries. Its leaves are broad, rose-coloured leaves and grow 5-12 cm long with a long petiole. It flowers September to December producing small rose coloured flowers 4mm wide. It develops edible berries which dark red to black and 5mm wide containing 8 seeds. These berries ripen in January to February and are dispersed by birds.
The bark of branchlets green or red in colour, darkening with age. Leaves, flowers and buds are very palatable to possums.
Maori children used to feast on the berries, which were also squeezed and strained to make a sweet drink.
European settlers made jam and jellies and also produced a very good wine from the berries Infusions from the bark and leaves were used to treat burn, boils, sore eyes and rheumatic pains.