In the forests of the Margaret River region of South West Australia, the Marri trees are easy to spot. Where the rough, greyish bark has been ruptured by burrowing insects or birds, the tree bleeds a deep, red, glassy gum. 'Marri' means blood in the local Indigenous Noongar language. White settlers just called it redgum. The botanical name is Corymbia calophylla.
From late spring to early winter, these majestic trees, that can grow up to 40 meters tall, produce an abundance of white or pinkish flowers, laden with nectar. After flowering, the trees produce large urn-shaped nuts, commonly called honky nuts, that are an important food source for the local parrots and cockatoos. If you are familiar with the Snugglepot and Cuddlepie stories of May Gibbs, it's said that she based her gumnut babies on the Marri Tree nuts.
For Indigenous communities, the Marri Tree was both a favourite source of food and a medicine tree. The sweet nectar was sucked directly from the flowers, and the blossoms were soaked in water to make a sweet drink. The red sap, or gum, was used as an antiseptic to treat wounds and infections. Hardened pieces of gum were used as fillings for teeth or ground into a powder to treat gastric illnesses.
It was this traditional knowledge that first led pharmacologists to study the therapeutic properties of Marri honey. Like the related Eucalypt marginate (Jarrah), the honey produced from the nectar of Marri Redgum is packed with antioxidants and antimicrobial compounds that have been studied for a wide range of medicinal uses, both topically and nutritionally. (1)
This antibacterial potency is expressed as Total Activity or TA. Like the UMF/MGO scale for Manuka honey, the TA rating of West Australian monofloral honey is a measurement of the bioactivity from the natural enzymes and chemical compounds. However, Marri Redgum differes from Manuka in one key way.
Manuka honey is antibacterial, meaning it can kill or inhibit harmful bacteria. Whereas Marri Redgum (and Jarrah) are antimicrobial, meaning that in addition to bacteria, they can also be used against viruses, fungi and other pathogens.
When bees collect nectar from the Marri flowers, they add an enzyme called glucose oxidase which reacts with the glucose and the oxygen in the nectar to produce hydrogen peroxide, a potent antimicrobial compound. Hydrogen peroxide is used widely in medicine as an antiseptic to treat skin and mouth infections.
Honey with a TA greater than 10+ can help heal skin wounds, ulcers and burns. At the levels found in Marri honey it is gentle on human tissue and the gut, and can soothe sore throats, improve digestion and support a healthy immune system. Our honey has been certified to have a Total Activity of 25+.
We harvest our Marri honey from the forests and bushlands in the Margaret River region; one of the most pristine environments in the world. The honey is unprocessed and minimally filtered to retain the natural flavour and full nutritional qualities.
(1) Irish et al. (2011) https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0018229
Marri Redgum Honey is a golden amber colour which is free-flowing at room temperature. We recommend not refrigerating Marri honey as it will crystalise at cold temperatures.
Marri honey has a pleasing aroma of ripe fruit and toffee with a slightly herbal note. The honey is flavoursome, with a creamy mouthfeel, but the sweetness is restrained. Think dates or dried figs.
How to Serve and Enjoy Marri Redgum Honey
Straight from the jar:
A spoonful of Marri Honey TA 25+ is a natural way to support your body’s immune system with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and beneficial enzymes. It may help to soothe a sore throat or to ease the symptoms of a cough or cold. Always seek professional medical advice for any persistent symptoms.
As table honey:
The Marri is delicious on buttered bread, toast, crumpets or pancakes. Drizzle a spoonful over muesli or cooked oats—the flavour pairs beautifully with stewed or preserved fruits, chopped toasted nuts and natural yoghurt.
Honey Whipped Ricotta Spread
2 teaspoons of Margaret River Company Marri honey
A pinch of salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of lightly toasted pine nuts.
Like our Coastal Peppermint Honey, Marri is fantastic honey to use in cooking because it is not excessively sweet. However, exposure to high heat will denature the honey's nutritional properties and antimicrobial activity, so we recommend adding to dishes at the end of the cooking process before serving. Drizzle liberally over steamed carrots, zucchini and broccoli, roasted pumpkin and parsnips. It's also terrific in salad dressings and dipping sauces.
Honey Salad Dressing2 tablespoons of Balsamic or Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tablespoon of Margaret River Company Marri honey
Half a cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon of Dijon-style mustard
I small clove of garlic minced (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.