The Sweetest Thing
Leatherwood trees Eucryphia lucida are in glorious flower during February in Tasmania and produce lots of sweet nectar. Leatherwoods can produce masses of distinct white flowers quite visible from a distance.
Leatherwood flowers are sweetly scented and can fill the air with their perfume, especially on warm days in dense stands of Leatherwood trees.
During the flowering season from January to April, beekeepers put numerous beehives in areas readily accessible by road and near dense stands of flowering Leatherwoods. Some beekeepers even go deep into the forest to place their hives near these flowering trees.
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 only found in Tasmania and grow around 6 to 10 m high, through they sometimes shoot up to 30 m high in really great 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 so the older the Leatherwood, 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. So if you see a big Leatherwood tree in full bloom, you know that it has to be a very old tree.
Leatherwoods in flower also attract and feed many insects, including butterflies, and honeyeater birds. And of course, people love to feast their eyes (and noses) on its gorgeous blossums and lovely scent. This is a tree that just keeps on giving!
DID YOU KNOW?The Leatherwood was almost chosen as Tasmania's floral emblem, but it was beaten out by the Blue Gum as it was not a plant readily grown in Tasmanian gardens because of its huge size!
TIPIf 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. They don't like wet feet though.