Like plants such as the legumes (peas and beans), matagouri has special micro-organisms on its roots that enable the plant to take nitrogen from the atmosphere and convert it into a form that can be used by the plant.
This ability to ‘fix nitrogen’ means that matagouri can live in relatively nutrient-poor habitats. They enrich the soil around them and thereby allow other plant species to regenerate.
Matagouri is very slow-growing and some plants on undisturbed river terraces can be over 100 years old.
Matagouri thorns were used by early Māori as tattooing needles when no other materials were available.
Its flowers make very good honey.