Farmacy Grows Healing Plants
Doug and Genna Wolkon, along with business partner Aaron Moeller, own and operate Kauai Farmacy, a quarter-acre herbal tea farm in Kilauea. Medicinal plants are grown with eco-friendly methods, such as neem spray and plant diversity for natural pest control, and biochar in soil amendments.
Kauai Farmacy blends mamaki leaves into its House Blend, Energy Blend, Garden Blend and Mamaki Chai.
What’s growing: Allspice, aloe vera, ashwagandha, bergamot, breadfruit, calendula, cassava, cayenne pepper, chicory root, cinnamon, comfrey, curry leaf, daisy, edible hibiscus, gardenia, ginger (galangal), gotu kola, guava, Hawaiian chili pepper, hyssop, jalapeno, kaffir lime, lavender, lemon, lemon balm, lemon-grass, lemon verbena, mamaki, marjoram (sweet), moringa, mint, mulberry, noni, orange, oregano (Italian, Greek, Cretian), passion fruit, loquat, pineapple sage, poha berry, Polynesian spinach, roselle, rosemary, sage, soursop, spilanthes, star fruit, stevia, sugarcane, summer savory, thyme, tulsi, tarragon, turmeric, valerian, yacon.
Mamaki (Pipturus albidus), an endemic species that can be found only in Hawaii, is a member of the nettle family (Urticaceae), without the stinging hairs.
Leaves are used as a medicinal tea, and the plant is used as an accent in landscaping. It can be grown in containers, as hedges and as a screening, which provides shade.
Early Hawaiians used the wood to make clubs and kapa beaters. Waimea is the Kauai name for mamaki.
Leaves range in length from 2 to 12 inches. They are usually dark green and light green or white underneath. Heart-shaped leaves with a fine sandpaper feel have edges with jagged indentations.
Small, white fruit, which grows along the branches, is edible and tastes bland to mildly sweet.
Season: Mamaki, a small tree that grows year-round, can live more than five years.
Tip: Mamaki attracts the only two native butterflies – Pulelehua Kamehameha or Kamehameha butterfly (Vanessa tameamea), and Koa or Blackburn butterfly (Udara blackburni) – which is a good reason not to spray insecticides.
Health Benefits: Dried or fresh mamaki leaves are used to make a mild and invigorating healthy tea. Infused leaves can be used in treatment for high blood pressure; high cholesterol; liver problems; depression; bladder problems and infections; stomach, colon, liver, and bowel disorders; listlessness; sore throat; coughing and PMS. Mamaki, however, can cause mild agitation or insomnia in some people. Mamaki tea promotes digestion and makes a fine drink with meals.
Fruit is eaten as a laxative or for stomach, colon and digestive problems.
Mamaki has a soothing effect on the nervous system and works well for irritability or to decompress after a busy day.
Kauai Farmacy can be found at: For more information, visit KauaiFarmacy.com or call 828-6525. Live plants can be purchased at Pua Loke Nursery. Call 241-3762.
Mamaki is mildly sweet with a pleasant, earthy taste. Feel free to add additional flavorings such as fresh mint, kaffir lime, lemongrass, ginger or honey. Makes one serving.
* 6 mamaki leaves, preferably fresh
* 1 cup boiling water
Pour water over leaves and add additional flavorings. Steep for 10 minutes, strain and add honey if desired.
Marta Lane is a Kauai-based food writer. For more information, visit TastingKauai.com.