The manuka tree is part of nature’s medicine cabinet. Often it is also referred to as the New Zealand tea tree that grows as bushes or shrubs along ridges in the Waitakere Ranges. There the tree forms a protective layer for the emerging regenerative plant life.
The manuka or leptospermum scoparium grows in all sorts of soil from the lowlands to 1800 metres. The tree grows from the North Island to the South Island withstanding frost, drought and wind. Wetlands are the only exception. Captain Cook is credited for the naming of tea tree. He used the tree’s leaves to brew himself a cup of tea. Though, he voiced that the bitter taste takes getting used to. Tea made of dried manuka leaves agreed more with his taste.
Manuka, the name Maori people gave this tree, is still commonly used in New Zealand. Products associated with manuka are the manuka honey, the active manuka honey and the manuka oil.
Manuka trees grow from small shrubs to 10 meters tall trees. The shrub like tree is a member of the evergreen family with small prickly leaves sitting on very dense branches. Clusters of blooms cover the shrub in white to pink. During the time of maturing the kanuka tree is often confused with manuka. After that the differences become more pronounced. The leaves are less prickly and the tip more rounded, the bark flakes in lengthy strips and the trees overall height of up to 20 metres and a circumference of about one metre dwarfs a manuka.
The manuka tree does have enemies other than the loggers cutting them down for fire wood. The web worm damages the tiny tips and shoots by webbing them together and built their homes inside the webbing. Web worm are controlled with poison or oil spray. Another thread to the shrubs is the lemon tree borers. They bore holes into the branches that weaken considerably. A tree rescue can be injecting kerosene into the bored holes. Kerosene is harmless to the tree.
Characteristics that occur in manuka products like essential manuka oil and manuka honey are antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory.
Both manuka oil and kanuka oil have these healing properties. Even though it has a lot of health benefits manuka oil is toxic if it is taken internally. It affects the liver negatively. Externally used the essential oil is very beneficial.
Similar medicinal qualities are found in the honey. The market offers a range of varying levels of UMF the unique manuka factor that describes the amount of antibacterial properties in manuka honey. The purest can be used to treat therapeutically internally and externally on open wounds. The manuka honey New Zealand with the lowest healing properties finds its place on the table to enjoy a sweet treat, with a distinct herbal manuka taste.
Nature’s own antibiotic and antiseptic qualities inspire specialists today to create a wide range of natural health products and beauty care products.
Further reading http://www.doc.govt.nz/conservation/native-plants/manuka-kahikatoa-and-kanuka/
Encountered flora on a bush walk....