The name "tea-tree" comes from the early bushman who used Mānuka and Kānuka leaves to brew a drink similar to tea.
The Māori and early settlers used to chew young shoots or swallow a drink made from seed capsules as a cure for dysentery and diarrhoea. The liquid from boiling the bark was used to treat constipation, as a sedative to promote sleep and reduce fever, for bathing sore eyes, treating colic, inflamed breasts, scalds and burns. The white gum was applied to scalds and burns and was taken by adults and children to relieve coughing. Kānuka flowers produce a reasonable amount of nectar that is favoured by honeybees, and is popular for its strong taste and reputed antibacterial properties.
Kānuka has shown antimicrobial activity against Herpes simplex and possibly other viral infections. Activity against various species of fungi has also been demonstrated, including those responsible for athletes foot and candida (thrush). In recent years many herbal practitioners and patients have used topical preparations containing Kānuka oil for such infections with impressive results.
The difference between Kānuka and Mānuka
Kānuka is the larger tree, growing up to 10 m.
Its foliage is softer to the touch than Mānuka.
The kānuka flowers later than mānuka, usually starting in December, with the flowers emerging in bunches or groups.
The seed capsules are smaller than those of manuka.
Mānuka is a smaller than kānuka, reaching around 4 m high.
It has prickly foliage and a pungent scent.
The singular flowers are larger than Kānuka and may have a reddish tinge.
Mānuka flowers in spring early summer and the stamens are shorter than the petals.
The seed capsules are larger than those of Kānuka.
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