- The Manuka Tea Tree (New Zealand Tea Tree) is a shrub native to New Zealand.
- Every part of the Manuka tree can be utilized, including its bark, leaves, and oils.
- Western honeybees use Manuka flowers to create Manuka honey, which contains beneficial compounds like MGO, leptosperin, DHA, and prebiotics.
You’ve heard about Manuka honey and its health benefits, but have you ever thought about what makes Manuka so special? Without the Manuka tree, it wouldn’t be possible to get Manuka honey.
Let’s dive into what sets Manuka honey apart and how this New Zealand-native tree is involved.
What’s a Manuka Tree?
Famous for its flowers that are used to make Manuka honey, the Manuka tree (Leptospermum scoparium) — also known as Manuka myrtle, New Zealand tea tree, and broom tea tree — is an evergreen shrub native to New Zealand and Australia.
Manuka’s aromatic leaves were used by Captain Cook and early pioneers for tea, hence its moniker, “tea tree.” But this fascinating plant has uses dating back even further (we’ll get to that in a minute).
Manuka trees typically grow between seven and 16 feet tall, but some can grow to be more than 30 feet tall. They have hard, red wood, and evergreen leaves that are small and prickly, measuring around half an inch in size.
Each summer, Manuka trees flower for around two to six weeks. These sweet-smelling white and pink flowers attract all kinds of pollinators, including the honeybees that make Manuka honey.
Manuka Trees Are Resilient and Sustainable
Another interesting thing about the Manuka tree is that it’s extremely resilient, and is one of the first species to re-establish itself after land clearing. These plants can survive in otherwise inhospitable areas, and they can withstand drought and frost once they’re established.
Many see the Manuka tree as an invasive species that needs to be eradicated since they seed and spread so easily. But in reality, these plants are essential for preventing soil erosion and provide the shade needed for slow-growing native plants to establish.
At Manukora, we believe the Manuka tree is a vital part of the ecosystem that helps so much life to flourish. That’s why we’re making reforestation efforts along waterways, and only practice ethical beekeeping, prioritizing regenerative practices.
What Is the Manuka Tree Used For?
The Maori people have used Manuka trees for centuries. For example, the Maori use young Manuka plants to make eel baskets and crayfish pots.
However, these plants have a multitude of modern uses, too. Every part of the Manuka plant is useful, including its wood, bark, leaves, and flowers.
Manuka Wood and Bark
Manuka wood is hard, making it good for tools, paddles, weapons, and housebuilding. Meanwhile, the bark can be used to create water containers and waterproof roofs.
Some people chew Manuka bark to support sleep or brew it in a decoction to soothe stiff, achy joints. Finally, the sawdust is used to smoke meat and fish for a distinctive, delicious flavor.
Manuka Leaves and Essential Oils
Manuka leaves have traditionally been used for tea. You can also find Manuka extract in many skin cosmetics. The extract is said to smooth flakiness and aid the body’s natural protection against aging and UV damage.
Essential oil made from Manuka leaves has also become popular for many uses, including its reported antibacterial properties and ability to soothe skin.
It seems the scientific world is finally taking note — Manuka oil is now being studied further for its beneficial properties.
Manuka flowers provide the nectar that makes Manuka honey. These flowers only bloom for two to six weeks each year, and each bloom may only be open for around five days. In that short period of time, the Western honeybees collect the pollen and begin preparing Manuka honey.
This unique and beneficial honey can be used for digestive and immune support and overall wellness. This is all thanks to its unique makeup, which features leptosperin and methylglyoxal (MGO), the substances that give Manuka honey many of its naturally beneficial properties.
What Are the Special Compounds Found in the Manuka Tree?
We like to think of Manuka honey as Honey With Superpowers™ because it has special properties you can’t find in your typical store-bought honey, including:
Methylglyoxal (MGO). This naturally occurring antibacterial compound is found only in Manuka honey. The higher the MGO level, the more potent the Manuka.
Leptosperin. This unique and powerful anxtioxidant differentiates Manuka honey from other honey, and is used as an identifying marker by the Ministries of Primary Industries (MPI).
Dihydroxyacetone (DHA). DHA converts to MGO over time. DHA supports the body’s natural immune responses.
- Prebiotics. The prebiotics found in Manuka honey can support healthy digestion.
We know high-quality Manuka honey can be hard to come by. That’s why we independently test each batch of our Manukora honey to certify its authenticity and potency.
All of our products come with a QR code to provide information on each product. When you scan the code with your smartphone, you will find:
- Confirmation of authenticity
- The batch number of the product
- The harvest region
- The beekeeper responsible
- Third-party batch test results for MGO and Leptosperin
- The potency of the Manuka honey in the product
At Manukora, we believe in ethical beekeeping and the protection of our Manuka trees. This is why the traceability of our products is essential so that you can feel good about your choice.
The Manuka tree (Leptospermum scoparium) is a shrub native to New Zealand. It serves many important ecological purposes, including preventing soil erosion and covering slow-growing native plants. Plus, all parts of the Manuka tree are useful, including its wood, bark, leaves, and flowers. The Maori have traditionally used this unique plant for everything from homebuilding to soothing sore muscles.
Today, it continues to have a multitude of uses for people around the world. Most notably, the Manuka tree’s flowers are used to make Manuka honey, which is prized for its unique beneficial properties.
To learn more about everything Manuka, honey, and bees, explore the Manukora blog here.
To explore this unique variety of honey for yourself, explore our collection of authentic, New Zealand-derived Manuka honey here.
Mānuka/kahikātoa and kānuka: Native plants | NZ.gov
Dynamics of the Cellular Metabolism of Leptosperin Found in Manuka Honey | PMC
Mānuka Oil—A Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties | PMC