Commonly known as ‘redgum’ in Western Australia, Marri trees produce an abundance of nectar that makes for some of the best honey getting around.
What is Marri?
Diving into it for the botanists amongst you, the binomial name for Marri is Corymbia calophylla. It came as news to us, but these trees are not a species of Eucalyptus and in fact, have a separate genus.
The name ‘Marri’ comes from the indigenous Noongar language of the Southwest region and describes the red sap that oozes from these trees. It is this red oozing sap that has afforded this tree the common name ‘redgum’. This common name can mean that the plant and products (honey, timber) get confused with other forms of red gums, so we prefer to call it by the name Marri.
Marri tend to grow into large trees some of which can be over 30m in height and up to 2m in diameter. That said, they will take on a mallee form (clumps of small trunks) when grown in poor soil conditions.
They are native to and distributed along the Southwest corner of Western Australia. These trees are exclusive to Western Australia and grow alongside other natives such as Jarrah and Karri.
Marri has several key identifying features. First of all, is their large ‘honkey nuts’. Many locals will be familiar with the trip hazard that these large almost golfball-sized nuts provide.
While these trees may have provided plenty of ammunition to throw at each other as kids, Marri trees were never that great for climbing. This is due to their rough and furry bark that would always leave us very itchy.
Enough identify features for you? Of most significance to us as beekeepers are the abundance of flowers that these trees produce. If you’ve been in the Southwest region of WA from around late January to the end of March, then you may have noticed the prominent cream coloured flowers of the Marri.
We do get a little excited when we see these trees in full bloom as they are a reliable producer of excellent quality nectar, which our bees go crazy for. While the bees can tend to get a little ‘moody’ while working on the Marri, they almost always bring in a good surplus of honey that sets them up well for the cooler months that follow the Marri flow.
Marri trees have been used for timber production however, the numerous faults and gum veins make it inherently unsuitable for construction. The character of the timber does make for some fine furniture though.
So, what’s Marri honey like?
Put simply, it’s amazing.
Not only is Marri honey a great tasting honey it is also a very ‘active’ honey. There are a lot of beneficial properties within Marri honey that make it a great choice for those seeking health benefits of honey.
We seldom try to explain honey online. When we do so we either expose our inadequacy with words, or we severely undersell just how good the particular honey is.
That said though, Marri honey is very flavoursome and rich in flavour and fragrance but not overpowering and in fact quite subtle. It goes equally well when used in addition to other foods or when just eaten alone.
We’re yet to find anyone that hasn’t enjoyed our Marri honey and it is always very popular.
What to look for when buying Marri honey
We always suggest that you shop for raw Marri honey.
You’ll want to ensure that the honey you are buying has not been heat-treated (pasteurised). If it has, then a lot of the beneficial properties of the honey and the flavour will have been destroyed. For more information on raw honey, take a look at our raw honey checklist.
Many sellers may advertise their Marri honey as ‘redgum honey’. So long as this honey has been harvested in Western Australia, then it can be fairly safe to assume that they are selling Marri honey.
Be mindful of supermarket honey that sells as ‘redgum honey’. We have seen redgum honey for sale at Coles that was imported from the East coast of Australia. Not only will this honey have been pasteurised prior to being imported to WA, but it also won’t be the same as the redgum honey (Marri honey) that is produced and sold in Western Australia.
This is due to the name redgum being shared with a number of different trees that are not Marri. We are not suggesting that redgum honey sold on the East coast is not good honey, we are just seeking to clarify that there is a difference.
Just like Jarrah honey, Marri honey can be tested for its activity level. Look for activity level labelling on the packaging to be assured that the honey has undergone lab testing. You can expect to pay a premium for any honey that has had this testing done.
Failing that, look for sellers that you can trust are selling the ‘real deal’. As Marri honey is mono-floral honey, you’ll want to be sure that the beekeeper has placed their hives in a location adjacent to Marri trees and harvested it at the right time.
This is to ensure that the majority of the nectar collected by the bees has come from the Marri trees and not from other trees or plants in the area that may have been flowering before or after the Marri was flowering. There is nothing wrong with beekeepers selling a Marri mix, so long as it is labelled accordingly.
Remember though, when chasing specific mono-floral honey, the cheapest isn’t always going to be the best and you generally get what you pay for.
By consulting the beekeeper about their honey and building a relationship with them, you can be better placed to ensure you are getting the Marri honey that you are looking for.
To learn more about Marri honey, comment below and ask us a question. If you’d like to try some of our Marri honey, then head over to our store and check out our Marri honey available in a variety of sizes and packaging.