Karo (Pittosporum crassifolium)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Pittosporum crassifolium

A dark blue dye is obtained from the seeds[169].

The plant is a potential source of saponins. Saponins can be used to as a soap and, because of their bitter taste, they also have potential as a bird deterrent by spraying them over the plants. The bitterness can be easily removed by washing (or by the next rainfall!).

Very tolerant of pruning and maritime exposure, this plant can be grown as a protective hedge by the coast in mild maritime areas[11, 29, 49, 75].

The plant has an extensive root system and can be used for binding sandy soils, dunes etc[153].

Wood – very tough. Used for inlay[46, 61].

  • Medicinal Use

    None known

  • Edible Use

    None known

  • Cautionary Notes

    This plant contains saponins[153]. Saponins are found in many foods, such as some beans, and although they are fairly toxic to people they are poorly absorbed by the body and most pass straight through without any problem. They are also broken down if the food is thoroughly cooked for a long time. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish[K].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow when ripe in the autumn or in late winter in a warm greenhouse[78, 200]. The seed usually germinates freely. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle, move the plants to a cold frame as soon as they are established and plant out late in the following spring[78]. Consider giving them some protection from the cold during their first winter outdoors. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 – 7cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Poor to fair percentage[78]. Basal ripewood cuttings late autumn in a cold frame[200].
Succeeds in any well-drained soil[182, 200], including dry soils, preferably in a sunny position[182] but also succeeding in light shade[200]. Plants are very resistant to maritime exposure[11, 29, 75, 200]. This species is not very cold-hardy in Britain, succeeding outdoors only in the milder areas of the country[11]. Plants grow very well on the Scilly Isles but have not been proved on the mainland[29].Other reports say that it grows well in south-western England[11, 49]. Very amenable to pruning, plants can be cut right back into old wood if required[200]. The flowers are sweetly scented, they are borne in terminal clusters of either up to 10 males or up to 5 females[219]. Plants only flower freely in mild areas of the country[219]. The species in this genus are very likely to hybridize with other members of the genus[200]. When growing a species from seed it is important to ensure that the seed either comes from a known wild source, or from isolated specimens in cultivation. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200].
New Zealand. Naturalized in Britain in the Scilly Isles[17].

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.