October 22, 2017

Newer Native

Leptospermum scoparium - manuka

Pamela Rogers Photo | Leptospermum scoparium – manuka

Leptospermum scoparium - manuka

Pamela Rogers Photo | Leptospermum scoparium – manuka

Native to New Zealand is Leptospermum scoparium, or manuka in Maori. This scrub-type tree grows more like a shrub reaching heights up to 15 feet tall. But it can develop into a tree growing up to 50 feet tall. A flowering evergreen with thick branching and small leaves, this member of the myrtle family is known for its honey, which has antibacterial properties. Also called ti-tree in New Zealand, it is thought that name comes from Captain Cook who used the leaves to make tea. As for it being a “newer native,” it is believed there is evidence L. scoparium originated in Australia “before the onset of the Miocene aridity, and dispersed relatively recently from eastern Australia to New Zealand.” If you don’t have your geological epochs memorized, the Miocene was a period of a mere 23 to 5 million years ago. Maybe that should disqualify it from native status, being so recently arrived.

This photograph was taken at Queen Elizabeth Park in Paekakariki on the North Island of New Zealand by Pamela Rogers. You can read more about how Garden Maine and Pamela met here.