Skip to the content

Mānuka

Often called ‘Tea Tree’ because Captain Cook used the leaves to make a ‘tea’ drink.

Mānuka
Leptospermum scoparium
Can grow as high as
5m
What do these icons mean?

More about this tree

  • Mānuka is an important tree in forest regeneration. It is often the first species to grow in disturbed ground and can survive in harsh environments. Once established, it then provides shade and shelter for more sensitive natives.
  • It produces distinctive pink-white flowers throughout the year, making it a great tree for honey production.
  • In traditional rongōa, leaves were infused to reduce fevers and treat stomach and urinary problems, and bark was used as a sedative and to treat fever. Seeds were chewed to treat diarrhoea, and gum was used to alleviate coughs and as a moisturiser for burns.
  • In modern times the oil is recognised as having important antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral effects, and mānuka honey is sought-after for its healing properties.
  • In cooking, mānuka sawdust imparts a delicious flavour for smoking meats and fish.
  • The small hard leaves feel spiky to touch – this is a good way of distinguishing mānuka from kānuka, an unrelated native with a similar appearance and also often called tea tree. Mānuka feels tough or mean (M for mānuka and mean), whereas kānuka leaves feel soft, or kind (K for kānuka and kind).
top