The name Manuka comes from the indigenous people of New Zealand, the Maori. The plant also carries the name South Sea Myrtle (Leptospermum scoparium) or New Zealand Myrtle. It belongs to the myrtle family, which is related to the Australian tea tree and is native to the mountainous regions of New Zealand and southeastern Australia. Manuka grows as a shrub or tree-like up to about 4 meters in height. The plant is very hardy and thrives from lowland to sub-alpine heights.
The Manuka plant has become famous for the honey it produces and for its Manuka essential oil (the "real" tea tree oil, which is far superior to Australian tea tree oil). The plant parts of the Manuka were traditionally already used by the Maori as a great natural remedy for humans and animals. English missionaries brought the first beehives into the country in 1839, so that eventually the famous Manuka honey could be obtained.
The honey is obtained from the nectar of white Manuka flowers (with pink edges). Manuka grows mostly next to the related Kanuka, which however produces pure red / pink flowers. Manuka honey thus usually also has small proportions of Kanuka.