Story: Contraception and sterilisation

Poroporo plant

Poroporo plant

Māori women used poroporo (Solanum laciniatum and S. aviculare) shrubs as contraceptives. They boiled leaves and drank the broth about a week before menstruation. The efficacy of the decoction as a method of birth control is not known. In Taranaki in the late 1970s and early 1980s, poroporo shrubs were grown for solasodine, a steroid used in contraceptives. When it proved cheaper to raise such plants overseas or use synthetic substitutes, poroporo was no longer cultivated in New Zealand. 

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: E-050-020
Watercolour by Clelia L. Burton

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Jane Tolerton, 'Contraception and sterilisation - 19th-century contraception', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/artwork/26966/poroporo-plant (accessed 25 August 2019)

Story by Jane Tolerton, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 7 Dec 2018