Kunzea ericoides (A.Rich.) Joy Thomps.

Last updated: 27 Apr 2016

Scientific Name

Kunzea ericoides (A.Rich.) Joy Thomps. 


Baeckea phylicoides A.Cunn. ex Schauer, Kunzea glabriuscula Gand., Kunzea leptospermoides F.Muell., Kunzea peduncularis F.Muell., Kunzea phylicioides (A.Cunn. ex Schauer) Druce, Leptospermum ericoides A.Rich., Leptospermum phylicoideum (A.Cunn. ex Schauer) Cheel [1]

Vernacular Name

English Tree manuka, white manuka [2], white tea tree [3]
New Zealand Kanuka [2][4], manuka (Maori) [2]; manuoea, titira, atitira [5]
Australia Burgan [2].

Geographical Distributions

Kunzea ericoides  is native to New Zealand. It is distributed from the coastal to lowland shrubland, regenerating forest and forest margins, also present in montane forest, ultramafic shrubland. It is very occasionally present in subalpine shrubland. [5][6]

Botanical Description

K. ericoides is a member of the Myrtaceae family. It is a tree grows upwards to 18 m with the trunk can elongated to around 1-4 m. The bark is brown to grey and usually firmly attached. The branchlets are numerous, slender, glabrescent; indumentum sparse, deciduous, hairs divergent 0.02–0.05 mm long. [5][6]

The leaves are sessile, about glabrous, except for the margins; lamina 4.0–25.0 × 0.5–1.8 mm, green to yellow-green, linear, linear-lanceolate, to narrowly lanceolate, straight or with upper ¼ weakly recurved, apex acute, sometimes cuspidate, base attenuate; lamina margins initially finely sericeous, glabrate or glabrous; hairs forming a fine, discontinuous band failing just short of lamina apex. [5][6]

The inflorescence is a compact corymbiform to shortly elongate 3–15-flowered botryum up 60 mm long. The pherophylls foliose is about persistent with 1 per flower. The lamina is measure 3.0–7.8 × 0.9–1.4 mm, elliptic, lanceolate to narrowly lanceolate, apex acute, base attenuate. The pedicels is 1.6–3.8 mm long at anthesis, usually glabrous. The flower buds pyriform to narrowly obconic, apex of mature buds weakly domed to flat, calyx lobes distant. The flower diameter is 4.1–8.3 mm with 5 petals, measure around 1.4–2.6 × 1.5–2.0 mm, coloured white, orbicular, suborbicular to narrowly ovate, spreading, apex rounded, entire or very finely denticulate. It has 10–34 stamens in 1–2 weakly defined whorls, filaments white. The anthers are dorsifixed, measure 0.35–0.48 × 0.16–0.24 mm, broadly ellipsoid and have white pollen. The ovary has 4–5 locular, each with 16–24 ovules in two rows on each placental lobe. The style is 1.5–2.2 mm long at anthesis with capitate stigma which measure about 1¼ of the style diameter, flat, cream or white, flushing pink after anthesis, and having very finely granular-papillate surface. [5][6]

The fruits are rarely persistent, measure around 1.9-3.4 × 1.8–3.9 mm, glabrous, dark green to reddish-green, maturing brown to grey-brown to grey-black, cupular, barrel-shaped, and shortly cylindrical to hemispherical The calyx valves are erect with the apices incurved, split concealed by dried, erect and free portion of hypanthium. [5][6]

The seeds is measure 1.00–1.05 × 0.32–0.50 mm, semi-glossy, orange-brown to dark brown, obovoid, oblong, oblong-ellipsoid, or cylindrical and about curved with coarsely reticulate surface. [5][6]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

K. ericoides has been reported to contain α-pinene, viridiflorol, and viridiflorene. [7]

Plant Part Used

No documentation.

Traditional Use

K. ericoides  has been traditionally used for diarrhea and inflammation. [4]

Preclinical Data


Relaxant activity

K. ericoides or Kanuka oil was tested among other oils on stimulated guinea-pig ileum for its potential relaxant effects. The results illustrated that K. ericoides oil initially induced a contraction,however it was followed by spasmolytic activity. Still, the mechanism of action was not identified. Other studies have also demonstrated this activity. [8]

Cytotoxic activity

Several oils from the Myrtaceae family were tested for their cytotoxicity. Among the oils, K. ericoides oil demonstrated moderate cytotoxic activity. [9]

Antibacterial activity

K. ericoides has exhibited antibacterial activity. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is problematic in hospital settings. Several essential oils were tested against MRSA and other bacteria and yeasts. Although K. ericoides oil did not have the highest antibacterial activity, it did show good efficacy. [10]

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities

K. ericoides also has been revealed as having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. [11]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

A randomized placebo-controlled studied 19 patients with head and neck cancers received an oral rinse that contained K. ericoides (Kanuka) and Leptospermum scoparium (Manuka) essential oils or just a plain water rinse to treat their radiation-induced mucositis. Although this was a small study, the essential oil mouthwash group showed a decrease in symptoms associated with radiation induced mucositis. [12]


No documentation.

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation.


No documentation.

Case Report

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Kalanchoe blossfeldiana Poelln. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Apr 26]. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-106542
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume III E-L. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 682-683.
  3. Lis-Balchan M. Aromatherapy science: A guide for healthcare professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press, 2006; p. 216.
  4. Lis-Balchin M. An investigation of the actions of the essential oils of Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) and Kanuka (Kunzea ericoides), Myrtaceae on guinea-pig smooth muscle. J Pharm Pharmacol. 1998;50(7):809-811.
  5. New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. Kunzea ericoides. [homepage on the Internet]. c2016. [cited 2016 Apr 26]. Available from: http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora_details.aspx?ID=885
  6. de Lange PJ. A revision of the New Zealand Kunzea ericoides (Myrtaceae) complex. Phyto Keys. 2014;(40):1-5.
  7. Porter NG. Chemical, physical and antimicrobial properties of essential oils of Leptospermum scoparium and Kunzea ericoides. Phytochemistry. 1999;50(3):407-415.
  8. Lis-Balchin M. Pharmacological and antimicrobial studies on different tea-tree oils (Melaleuca alternifolia, Leptospermum scoparium or Manuka and Kunzea ericoides or Kanuka), originating in Australia and New Zealand. Phytother Res. 2000;14(8):623-629.
  9. Schnitzler P. Comparative study on the cytotoxicity of different Myrtaceae essential oils on cultured vero and RC-37 cells. Pharmazie. 2008;63(11):830-835.
  10. Warnke PH. The battle against multi-resistant strains: Renaissance of antimicrobial essential oils as a promising force to fight hospital-acquired infections. J Craniomaxillofac Surg. 2009;37(7):392-397.
  11. Wyatt RM. Phytochemical analysis and biological screening of leaf and twig extracts from Kunzea ericoides. Phytother Res. 2005;19(11):963-970.
  12. Maddocks-Jennings W. Evaluating the effects of the essential oils Leptospermum scoparium (manuka) and Kunzea ericoides (kanuka) on radiotherapy induced mucositis: A randomized, placebo controlled feasibility study. Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2009;13(2):87-93.