Toetoe are four species of tall grasses native to New Zealand and members of the Cortaderia genus. The name comes from the Maori language. The four similar species (Cortaderia toetoe, Cortaderia fulvida, Cortaderia splendens and Cortaderia richardii), are closely related to the introduced Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana or Cortaderia jubata).

Two South America species of Cortaderia, C. jubata and C. selloana (Pampas Grass), have been introduced to New Zealand and are sometimes mistaken for toetoe. These introduced species tend to take over from the native toetoe and are regarded as invasive weeds.

Common uses

The Maori used the toetoe leaves to make baskets, kites, mats, wall linings and roof thatching. It was also used to make containers to cook food in hot springs. The flower stalks were also useful - as frames for kites, and in tukutuku panelling. The seed heads themselves were used on fresh wounds to stop bleeding. Other medicinal uses included treatment of diarrhoea, kidney Complaints, and burns. Toetoe is New Zealand's largest native grass, growing in clumps up to 3 m in height.


Cutty grass

Toetoe is also known by its common name 'Cutty grass', especially amongst children, because the serrated leaf edges that can inflict cuts to the human skin. This name is also used in New Zealand to refer to Gahnia setifola (mapere).

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