Origin: New Zealand
Improvement status: Wild
Seeds per packet: ~100
BOTANICAL SAMPLE - NOT GERMINATION TESTED
Life cycle: Perennial
Manuka, or Broom Teatree, is a practically miraculous plant from New Zealand and southeast Australia famous for its strongly antibiotic (and delicious) honey, but also a wonderful tea alternative, a medicinal plant itself, and source of a useful hardwood for tool handles and smoking food. The name comes from the Maori word for the plant, which is still the common name in New Zealand. Australians are more likely to call it "tea tree," a name which supposedly arose because Captain Cook used the leaves to make a tea. (This is not to be confused with the famous Melaleuca tea-tree, also from Australia, famed for its medicinal oil.) Many people actually prefer the taste of its leaves to common green or black tea. It's also a beautiful plant, with pink-magenta to white flowers that somehow look like a cross between ornamental quince and heather.
Manuka honey commands an exceptionally high price for honey, and for very good reasons. It is antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory, and is especially sought after for treating burns and other wounds. It can help reduce plaque on teeth, help surgical wounds heal faster, and prevent inflammation in the esophagus caused by radiation and chemotherapy used for cancer. There's some indication it can be useful against Human Papillomavirus (HPV). And some studies even indicate a utility in fighting respiratory viruses, including the coronavirus one that causes COVID-19.
Our New Zealand-grown seed was imported by the good folks at Sheffield's Seed Company in Locke, NY.
GROWING TIPS: Seeds need no special treatment to germinate. Surface sow and keep moist. Seed requires warm temperatures after sowing to germinate (75 degrees F or over).
Photo credit: Forest & Kim Starr, downloaded under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States license (first photo only; others are public domain).