Backyard Buddies
Leatherwood

Photo: John Tann

Leatherwood

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Leatherwood trees in flower produce lots of sweet nectar in their masses of sweetly scented white flowers.

During the Leatherwood flowering season from late spring to summer, beekeepers put numerous beehives in areas near dense stands of flowering Leatherwoods. Bees encouraged to collect nectar mainly from Leatherwoods in Tasmania produce a special, famous and gourmet type of honey called Leatherwood Honey. 70% of Tasmania's honey comes from Leatherwoods, which gives it a unique and very distinctive flavour and perfume.

Leatherwoods are endemic to Tasmania and grow around 6 to 10m high, though they sometimes shoot up to 30m high in ideal conditions. They are usually found in moist rainforests with rich soils and low fire frequency in the western and southern regions of Tasmania.

The older the Leatherwood tree, the more flowers it produces and the more nectar it makes for bees to collect and turn into honey.

Leatherwood trees under 75 years old have few to no flowers, while trees that are 175 to 210 years old produce the most flowers. If you see a large Leatherwood tree in full bloom, you know that it has to be very old.

Leatherwoods in flower also attract and feed many insects, including butterflies, and honeyeater birds.

Did you know?

The Leatherwood was almost chosen as Tasmania's floral emblem, but it was beaten out by the Blue Gum - a huge tree with large branches and an invasive root system which are almost never grown in Tasmanian gardens because of their huge size.

Tip

If you live in Tasmania and want to grow your own Leatherwood, it grows easily from seed and likes a partly shaded position, protected from the hot sun and kept moist but with good drainage. Although they grow to 70 metres tall, so you will need a very large backyard!

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John – Teacher, Beauty Point School, NSW

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