Manuka Tree

Manuka Tree

History of Manuka Tree

Manuka, or Leptospermum scoparium, is a scrub-type tree which grows prolifically around coastal areas of New Zealand where land previously cleared for forestry or farming is now being left to return to native forests. Mānuka is typically one of the first plants to regenerate on cleared land.

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Grown Manuka Tree

An evergreen, with dense branching and small leaves, Mānuka was popular with the native Maori for the extensive uses of its wood and bark. Using bees to collect nectar for honey only came much later with Mary Bumby who brought two hives with honey bees with her from Sydney in 1839.

Before the arrival of Captain Cook and the early settlers, Māori used the hard, red wood of mānuka/kāhikatoa for everything from paddles, weapons, spade blades, bird spears and mauls to house building. The bark was used for making water containers and the inner bark as a waterproof layer for roofing. Although honey only became popular after the arrival of the early settlers, Mānuka was also well-known by the Maori for its health and healing properties.

An infusion of the bark was used externally and internally as a sedative, and to treat scalds and burns. The ash from the bark was rubbed onto the skin to treat skin diseases, while vapour from leaves boiled in water was used for colds. The inner bark was boiled and the liquid used as a mouthwash.

Manuka/kahikatoa flowers smell very sweet and provide an important source of pollen and nectar for native bees, flies, moths, beetles and geckos. In the early 1990s, Phil Caskey and his wife Sharan were among the first to explore the qualities and benefits of honey collected by bees from the Mānuka flower.

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How to Take Care of Manuka Tree

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Manuka Tree with Flowers

Manuka tree averages around 6 to 10 feet tall and wide, but that will vary depending on the growing conditions and cultivar. Plant your shrub either in the spring or early fall in a location that will allow it enough room to spread. Mix some compost or peat moss into the soil to add nutrients and improve drainage. Set your plant in a hole that’s as deep as its root ball and around three times as wide, and firmly pack soil around the roots. Water the area well. Then, add a layer of mulch to the top, keeping it at least a few inches away from the trunk of the plant. Water your plant deeply as it grows to encourage root development.

  1. Light - This plant prefers a location with full sun, though it can tolerate a little shade. However, flowering will typically be better if it grows in a sunny spot.
  2. Soil - Manuka tree readily grows in fertile, slightly acidic soil. Its planting site also needs good drainage. The plant is fairly tolerant of poor soil, though it doesn't like heavy soil. You can amend heavy soil with some peat moss or sand to improve its drainage.
  3. Water - Water young Manuka tree regularly, so the soil remains consistently moist. However, do not let your plant sit in soggy soil. Established plants like a more moderate moisture level, and they have some drought tolerance. You typically only have to water them if the soil begins to dry out from a lack of rainfall.
  4. Temperature and Humidity - This tree grows best in warm climates and doesn't do well once the outdoor temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius). However, if you live in a cooler growing zone, you still might be able to grow this plant in your garden. Simply plant it in a container, and bring the container indoors each winter. Place it by your brightest window where it will get as much sunlight as possible, and move it outside again in the spring once the temperature is consistently several degrees above freezing. Furthermore, Manuka tree grows well in high humidity, but it can tolerate dry climates as long as you are watering it regularly.
  5. Fertilizer - Manuka tree typically doesn’t require regular feeding when planted outdoors unless you have poor soil. However, it can benefit from a layer of compost or mulch in the spring, as well as a balanced fertilizer for blooming plants every two to three years. In containers, this tree will deplete its soil nutrients faster and will likely need feeding every year with a balanced fertilizer.
  6. Pruning - Manuka tree doesn't need much in the way of pruning beyond removing portions that are dead, damaged, or diseased. Right after the plant has finished flowering, you can prune it to maintain its shape, encourage bushier growth, and promote more blooms. But don't cut back more than a third of the plant at a time.

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The Uses and Benefits of Manuka Tree

The Maori people of New Zealand used manuka traditionally as food, medication as well as timber. Sometimes, a sugary gum is found on the branches of this tree and it was administered to infants or used as a remedy for cough in adults. Infusions prepared from the leaves and bark of the manuka tree were employed for treating a variety of ailments, while the wood of this tree was used to make implements. Captain Cook used its leaves to make a tea when he arrived in New Zealand for the first time in 1769.

Currently, the sawdust of manuka tree is widely employed to enhance the flavour of smoked fish and meats. The honey made by bees from the flowers of manuka is known to be a very valuable food as well as a health item. It is collected for exports. Currently, several studies are being undertaken to examine the therapeutic as well as antibacterial properties of this honey. Essential oils extracted from the leaves of also have commercial uses. It forms the basis for various therapeutic as well as cosmetics products.

Products from manuka tree are highly effective as antibacterial agents, especially for a limited gamut of bacteria and are available extensively throughout New Zealand. The Maori people of New Zealand used the manuka as a natural remedy for various conditions owing to this property of the species.

The manuka honey, which is produced by honeybees with nectar collected from the flowers of this tree, possesses a distinct flavour and its taste is richer than clover honey. In addition, manuka honey also possesses potent antibacterial and antifungal attributes. In fact, the best quality manuka honey having highly potent antimicrobial attributes is obtained from the hives that are found in wild and uncultivated regions having plenty of manuka bushes. Despite their overwhelming therapeutic properties, as of now very few scientific studies have been undertaken to prove the efficiency of this honey as a potent antimicrobial agent.

There are various different sources from which you can easily obtain manuka oil, which is being promoted as a substance that is effective for one's complexion, for use in aromatherapy, use in the form of an antibiotic, and treating several other medical condition, particularly those that affect the skin.

For the Maori community in New Zealand, manuka formed a vital medicinal plant. Infusions prepared with the leaves of this plant were used to treat fevers, stomach disorder as well as problems related to the urinary tract. The gum produced by the tree branches was also employed by these people in the form of a moisturizer for treating burns as well as to alleviate coughs. Decoctions prepared with the bark of the tree were used in the form of a mouthwash, taken internally to treat fever and diarrhea and also as a sedative.

The Maori in New Zealand used the wood of manuka in the form of firewood and they still value this highly as firewood. The timber of this tree was also used for various other purposes by these people.

People in New Zealand have been using the wood of manuka tree extensively, since it is straight-grained as well as tough. This wood has been utilized for making an assortment of implements, tools, and structures - for example beds, combs, houses, paddles, spears and canoes. In addition, they also valued this wood as firewood, since it possesses the ability to promote fire very easily. However, the local Department of Conservation has now been urging people not to harvest the manuka shrubs for firewood, because it plays a vital role in regenerating forests.

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Manuka tree is very suitable for people who loves taking care of plants with benefits as it is very useful, especially to our health.

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The Sample Picture of Manuka Plant in Our Nursery

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The Sample Picture of Manuka Plant in Our Nursery


  • Ahmed

    I am Ahmed , from SUDAN
    I would like to know more about the environmental requirements for best growth of manuka tree, such as optimum temperatures around the year, relative humidity, sun light, I need these information to do an experiment to grow this tree for commercial uses of the products and byproduct.

    Thank you

  • Vincent Yong

    I wonder if these manuka trees can be grown in tropic countries like Malaysia? Otherwise how about the highland areas where the average temperature is around 20 deg throughout the year with plenty of sunshine?

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