Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) is a small tree which grows abundantly through out New Zealand.
Manuka is a nursery tree and often forms large areas that protect regenerating forest seedlings and form a shelter for native orchids and other small plants. Manuka grows either as a shrub or as a tree up to 4m high with spreading branches. The branches and young leaves are covered with whitish silky hair and are aromatic when crushed. The delicate white and pink flowers can cover the tree so that it appears to have snowed. The bark is stringy and peels in long flakes.
Medicinal uses: The leaves were boiled in water and inhaled for head colds. Leaves and bark were boiled together and the warm liquid was rubbed on stiff backs and rheumatic joints. The leaves and young branches were put into many vapour baths. This was rubbed on the skin to ease pain and was said to help heal fractures. The crushed bark was steeped in boiling water and the water used for inflammations, particularly for women with congestion of the breasts. A decoction of the barks of kanuka and kowhai, mixed with wood ash and dried, was rubbed into the skin for various skin diseases.