The pre-historic environment provided an abundant supply of protein from fish, shellfish and game for New Zealand Maori. Maori were skilled agriculturists and produced good crops of kumara (sweet potato). However, seasonal carbohydrate shortages particularly during the summer season before kumara crops were harvested lead to the gathering and processing of bracken fern rhizomes as a carbohydrate food source. Bracken is now known to contain the toxic carcinogen, ptaquilaoside. This paper investigates yield for effort, seasonal variation in carbohydrate yields of bracken rhizomes to determine any seasonal variation in toxicity levels and to ascertain the effects of processing rhizomes.
Burtenshaw, M. K. (2007). Bracken (Pteridium esculentum) as a food source for pre-contact Maori in New Zealand. In 48th Annual Meeting of the Society for Economic Botany, Chicago, Illinois, United States.