Eucryphia Lucida (Leatherwood)
Tasmania lies on latitude 42 south, sharing this latitude only with the South Island of New Zealand and Southern Chile. Generally a mountainous and inhospitable area. For a short 6-8 weeks of the year, summer comes to this wild place and with it the annual blooming of the Leatherwood tree, Eucryphia Lucida.
Eucryphia Lucida or Leatherwood is commonly called a medium-sized tree with a compact crown of glossy green leaves. This cool temperate rainforest tree produces masses of white, showy flowers that have a honey scent. It is an endemic Tasmanian cool, peaceful rainforest tree in moss forests in the wetter areas of Tasmania's western side.
The genus Eucryphia is in the family Cunoniaceae, a southern hemisphere family of about 27 genera. There are about eight species of Eucryphia in the world; five being in Australia. There are currently four cultivars of Eucryphia Lucida: 'Pink Cloud', a pale to medium pink-flowered variety; 'Ballerina' a pale pink-flowered variety with deep pink stamens; 'Leatherwood Cream' a variegated leaf variety and 'Leatherwood Silver', a combination with silver-edged leaves.
E. Lucida is commonly a tree of 10-15 m but can reach 30 m in its natural habitat. It has dark green to grey-brown, smooth bark, which often covered with lichens. The leaves are simple, opposite, oblong, about 2-4 cm long, dark green above, and white below; the new leaves are glossy. E. Lucida flowers are rose-like with four white petals and numerous showy stamens.
The tree bears an abundance of too delicate white flowers with a fresh piquant scent. The bees visit these flowers for six weeks from January to mid-March and collect the distinctive aromatic nectar from them. During this time, the beekeepers camp in the remote wilderness while removing the beehives' surplus honey, enabling this highly sought honey to connoisseurs worldwide.
A real taste of the Australian wilderness produced some of the world's most luxurious honey. The credit for this must go to the beekeeper with a deep passion for the Tasmanian wilderness's bounty and in particular – the Leatherwood honey.
Leatherwood possesses distinctive aromas and flavours, a genuine distillation of a magnificent ancient landscape. Spicy and piquant – the leatherwood tree blooms for just six weeks of the year with delicate white flowers which attract the bees. Collecting the surplus nectar is not as easy as the beekeepers must camp in the wilderness for several days.
Following this process, Tasmanian Honey has adopted a unique low temperature preparation technique. By carefully managing the extraction of the honey from the combs and its cleaning, the floral essences and the innate vitality of the honey is preserved, resulting in an aromatic and naturally organic food.
Low temperatures in production also allow the honey to crystallise naturally, making it buttery and easy to spread. Little wonder that Leatherwood is one of the world's most sought-after honey.