Manuka Fact-Sheet

Discover Manuka honey.

What makes Manuka honey so special?

One of the most amazing things about the antibacterial activity of Manuka honey is that although bacteria that cause serious infections can develop resistance to our modern antibiotics (which is how they become superbugs), they cannot develop resistance to the activity of Manuka honey (Blair et al. 2009).

The special properties of Manuka honey were first identified by Professor Peter Molan in the 1980s while he was studying L. scoparium honey from New Zealand, and we have since discovered many sources of Australian Manuka with exceptionally high levels of activity.

Manuka honey is one of the most famous honeys in the world because of its medicinal properties, including:

  • Antimicrobial activity – that is, the ability to kill superbugs (antibiotic‐resistant bacteria and other difficult to treat microbes) that cause serious infections
  • Wound healing and anti‐inflammatory activity.


A natural compound called methylglyoxal (MGO) is responsible for much of the unique activity of Manuka honey. The MGO comes from a component, called dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which occurs organically in the nectar of flowers of some Leptospermum plants.

Various species of the Manuka plant produce different levels of DHA that give rise to the varying antibacterial potencies of this special honey.

Scientists looking at Australian honeys have found a number of sources of Manuka with exceptionally high levels of activity. (Cokcetin et al. 2016; Windsor et al. 2012).

More information

Key points:

  • Manuka honey is produced by bees from the flowers (nectar) of Leptospermum species plants, native to Australia and New Zealand.
  • Australia is home to over 80 species of Leptospermum, while New Zealand has only one species (Leptospermum scoparium), which is believed to have originated from Tasmania, Australia.
  • Since beekeeping was introduced into Australia, we have had a long history of producing Manuka honey.
  • Manuka honey is produced from the Leptospermum species of plants. Leptospermum scoparium is one of more than 80 species found in Australia, but the only one found in New Zealand, with the NZ species originating in Australia (Fleming 1975, Thompson 1989, Van Eaton 2014).
  • The New Zealand Maori have at least six terms for NZ’s Leptospermum scoparium, not just the word Manuka (Van Eaton, 2014).
  • Manuka honey was not produced in Australia or New Zealand until the European honey bee (Apis mellifera) was introduced. This happened in 1822 for the Australian mainland, 1831 for Tasmania (Watson), and in 1839 for New Zealand (Mary Bumby).
  • Australia has been using the word Manuka since European settlement for naming places, property.
  • Manuka honey is produced from the Leptospermum species of plants. Leptospermum scoparium is one of more than 80 species found in Australia, but the only one found in New Zealand, with the NZ species originating in Australia (Fleming 1975, Thompson 1989, Van Eaton 2014).