The place of New Zealand’s native tree ferns in prehistory

The volcanic landscape of New Zealand is home to a milieu of unique land botanicals that have been genetically conserved since its separation from Gondwana eighty million years ago. The most prominent species are native tree ferns. Due to their stable genealogy, they outdate the dinosaurs and their geographical isolation in New Zealand’s dynamic ecosystem ensured their survival. They are a living embodiment of the prehistoric world, making them an icon and symbol for New Zealand’s wealth in natural resources.


Mamaku – Black fern [ Cyathea medullaris  ]

Mamaku, scientifically known as Cyathea medullaris, is a native black tree fern that is commonly found in damp gullies across forested areas in the country.

According to Māori poems, the fronds of Mamaku were described as “E piko nei, me te mamaku” – a symbol of grief, but this is quite contrary to their ubiquitous medicinal use. The gum and young shoots (pītau) of this native fern contain an intriguingly unique natural elixir of biopolymers and nutrients. Whether the fronds were boiled or used raw, the golden gum of biopolymers within was used to treat skin sores from poison or physical friction or eaten raw to treat diarrhea and some gut related ailments.

Mamaku – modern cosmetic applications

Biopolymers used in cosmetics or cosmeceuticals can be broadly classed into either proteins or polysaccharides. Examples of common natural biopolymers are cellulose, lignin, alginate, gelatin, and chitin. Biopolymers are generally used as emulsifiers, thickeners, moisturizers, and surfactants. However, the greatest interest in biopolymers lies in their ability to act as antiaging, antiwrinkle, and whitening agents.

Although synthetic versions of these biopolymers can be mass produced, the versatility of natural biopolymers cannot easily be replicated. More unique natural biopolymers are especially sought after by the cosmetic and cosmeceutical industries, as they consistently offer an ‘’all in one’’ paradigm in bioactives.

The highly viscous golden extract of Mamaku offers this paradigm, as it is composed of an intriguingly unique biopolymer cocktail in the form of multifunctional oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. They synergistically work together to mechanically lift and tighten the skin, quickly reducing fine lines and wrinkles.

The two water-soluble polysaccharides mainly responsible for this activity are, glucomannans and arabinogalactan. These straight-chained biopolymers have outstanding antioxidant and antipollution activities, as well as improve the hydration capacity of a skin cream by forming an interlocking fishnet-like matrix. This matrix traps water and remains stable as constituent polysaccharides are branched like tree roots.

Global beauty market potential

Formulators and product developers from leading brands such as  Lancôme, LeMieux, and Armani have already been utilizing Mamaku extract in their anti-ageing product lines. The alluring and intriguing biopolymers within Mamaku, have given these products a supreme level of performance. They have also shed a light on the huge potential of New Zealand native land and marine botanicals.

Mamaku extract has vast potential to become well recognized in the current global cosmetic market and will be widely sought after in the future. Organic Bioactives’ traditional processing practice, combined with its patented TPT™ Xtraction method, ensures that it’s OceanDerMX™ range contains the purest most potent Mamaku extract delivering anti-pollution, lifting and firming benefits to the skin.

More to explore

New Zealand Mānuka Honey

Sourced from the nectar of New Zealand’s indigenous Mānuka tree (Leptospermum scoparium), Mānuka Honey is renowned for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, making it a potent natural ingredient for promoting healthy skin.

New Zealand Mānuka Leaf

The Remarkable Properties of Mānuka: A Native Treasure from New Zealand Mānuka (Leptospermum scoparium) is a small tree indigenous to New Zealand,

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