Piwakawaka Mini Te Mära Reo ~ The Language Garden
*Kökihi [Proto Rarotongan / Maori, probably from Proto Polynesian *Kisikisi]



Tetragonia tetragonioides [formerly T. expansa] (Aizoaceae)

Other inherited names: Rengarenga (see separate page)


This plant is grown commercially as it is a nutritious vegetable, best cooked as the raw leaves are very mildly poisonous; it also contains oxalic acid so should not be eaten in huge quantities! According to Murdoch Riley (Herbal, p. 221) the bitterness that develops in older leaves was traditionally removed by boiling the kökihi with the roots of the pöhue (a kind of convolvulus). The name is derived from a Proto-Polynesian root denoting primarily a cosmopolitan species of Oxalis; the particular form it takes in Mäori is shared with the cognate word in Rarotongan.

The alternative name, rengarenga, is a slight mystery, but probably relates to its status as a food eaten occasionally but which came into its own in emergencies.

PPn: *Kisi, PR/M Kökihi Oxalis corniculata (Oxalidaceae)

Tongan: Kihikihi (Oxalis corniculata [Oxiladaceae] & Desmodium triflorum [Fabaceae])
Rapanui: Kihikihi (A greyish species of lichen)
Hawaiian: 'ihi (Oxalis corniculata; also Portulaca lutea & related species.)
Rarotongan: Kökihi (Oxalis corniculata)


Desmodium triflorum
Tetragonia expansa in flower (Te Mära Reo)

Tetragonia expansa (Te Mära Reo)

Further information: There is a brief introduction to the culinary uses of kökihi and some other NZ native wild foods on the Good magazine website, as well as an informative section in Andrew Crowe's Field Guide (p. 90)..


Hue flower

Te Mära Reo, c/o Benton Family Trust, "Tumanako", RD 1, Taupiri, Waikato 3791, Aotearoa / New Zealand
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