Mānukais an important tree in forest regeneration. It is often the first species to grow in disturbed ground and cansurvive 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 traditionalrongōa, leaves were infused to reduce fevers and treat stomach and urinary problems, and bark was usedas a sedative and to treat fever. Seeds were chewed to treat diarrhoea, and gum was used to alleviate coughs and as amoisturiser for burns.
In modern times the oil is recognised as having important antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral effects, andmānukahoney is sought-after for its healing properties.
In cooking, mānukasawdust imparts a delicious flavour for smoking meats and fish.
The small hard leaves feel spiky to touch – this is a good way of distinguishingmānukafromkānuka, an unrelated nativewith a similar appearance and also often called tea tree.Mānukafeels tough or mean (M formānukaand mean),whereaskānukaleaves feel soft, or kind (K forkānukaand kind).