World wide, there are a number of trees that are called leatherwoods, all quite different species. The tree so named in Tasmania is the Eucryphia lucida, a flowering tree that is endemic to Tasmania, thriving in the high rainfall area of Tasmania’s wild western forests. It grows mostly as an understory plant, crowding in among the forest giants.
In the spring and summer, the leatherwood trees are covered with showy masses of white flowers that perfume the air. The flowers are lovely, but it is the nectar of these flowers that makes these trees economically valuable. They produce nectar abundantly—are in fact the single most important source of nectar in Tasmania—and in the summer, roads through the forests are often lined with beehives, as Tasmania’s beekeepers take advantage of the abundance.
I had actually tasted Tasmanian leatherwood honey before I visited Australia, so I knew to take advantage of being in the heart of the area that produces this remarkable honey, though of course being in transit limited what I could buy. But I did buy myself a good size bottle and began enjoying it at breakfast the very next day.
Tasmanian leatherwood honey is quite distinctive. It is pale gold, fragrant, with a creamy texture that melts in your mouth. Its taste is generally described as “spicy,” but to my taste, it is more specific than that—it is quite reminiscent of caraway.
Fortunately, I can now get it in a few gourmet shops or on the Internet, so I don’t have to live without it between trips to Australia. So for a little taste of Tasmania, see if you can’t track down some Tasmanian leatherwood honey. If you fancy honey, I think you’ll be pleased.