Kunzea ericoides

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For the Patlabor character, see Kanuka Clancy.
Kunzea ericoides
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Leptospermum phylicoides 2.jpg
Plant Info
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Scientific classification
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Kingdom: Plantae
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Division: Magnoliophyta
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Class: Magnoliopsida
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Order: Myrtales
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Family: Myrtaceae
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Genus: Kunzea
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Species: K. ericoides
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Binomial name
Kunzea ericoides
(A.Rich.) Joy Thomps.
Trinomial name
Type Species

Kunzea ericoides (Kānuka, Mānuka, Rāwiri, Māru, Mānuoea, Mānuka-Rauriki or White Tea tree) is a tree which is native to New Zealand. Until 1983, Kānuka was classified as being in the genus Leptospermum.

Endemic to New Zealand

Kānuka (or Mānuka as it was mostly known until the 1930's) is endemic to New Zealand. It is widespread particularly in coastal scrub and colonizing land recovering after a fire or reverting to a natural state after being used for agriculture. However it has been recorded growing to altitudes of 2000 m a.s.l. With its small but abundant flowers it can colour a whole hill side white, almost giving the appearance of snow cover. The wood is very hard and although not durable in the ground it is used for wharf piles and tool handles. It is particularly popular as firewood, burning with a great heat. In New Zealand, Kānuka can grow up to 30 metres high with a trunk up to 1 m across.

Kakariki parakeets (Cyanoramphus) use leaves and bark of Kānuka and the related Mānuka tea trees to rid themselves of parasites. Apart from ingesting the material, they also chew it, mix it with preen gland oil and apply it to their feathers [1]. Mānuka and Kānuka are superficially similar species and they are often confused with one another -the easiest way to tell the difference between them is to feel the foliage - Kānuka leaves are soft while Mānuka leaves are prickly.[2]

Related Species in Australia

In Australia there are allied species known as Burgan, these have been confused in the past with New Zealand Kānuka but recent molecular and morphological studies show that none of the Australian plants are the same as the New Zealand species. Burgan species are mostly small shrubs (up to 5 m tall) with lignotubers and rhizomes, though two species in the complex K. peduncularis, and a very uncommon unnamed species found on the northern New South Wales border have the tree form (up to 15 m tall) more typical of the New Zealand species. Burgan comprises seven species (three of which have current names in Kunzea and four of which have yet to be formally described) and is native to South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. Kunzea leptospermoides, K. phylicoides, and a widespread unnamed species of Victoria and New South Wales have weedy tendencies and have proved a major problem in recently cleared or burned ground and in some farmland areas.



  1. Greene, Terry (1989): Antiparasitic behaviour in New Zealand parakeets (Cyanoramphus species). Notornis 36(4): 322–323. PDF fulltext
  2. "Nature guide to the New Zealand forest"- John Dawson, Rob Lucas, Godwit, 2000


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