Kings Park and Botanic Garden’s plant breeding team are putting their talents to good use, partnering with ManukaLife to establish a plant breeding program to produce medicinal grade Manuka honey in Western Australia.
Known for its therapeutic qualities, Manuka honey is produced from a Tea Tree – Leptospermum scoparium, which is endemic to temperate coastal areas of Australia and New Zealand. This program will see the Kings Park team breed the traditional Leptospermum scoparium with Western Australian tea tree species to develop a range of hybrids.
It is anticipated that by breeding with Western Australian Tea Tree varieties, the hybrids can be grown in both hot and cold temperatures, widening the climate range in which this species will flourish. The new hybrids will also increase the traditional flowering period from six weeks to six months, thereby increasing annual honey production and assisting to address the growing global demand for Manuka honey.
The three year program will use the valuable experience gained from a number of other successful Kings Park breeding programs undertaken in recent years, including the RSL Spirit of ANZAC Grevillea and Scaevola ‘Blueprint’.