Tawari (Ixerba brexioides) is an endemic New Zealand tree (found nowhere else in the World). "Tawari" is a Maori name where an "a" is pronounced like the "a" in "art". The tree grows up to around 15 metres (50 feet) in height and when flowering is a beautiful sight with perfectly formed flowers in very symmetrical bunches contrasting against a dark green backdrop of similarly arranged leaves. The flowers were highly prized by the Maori people who used them for necklaces and adornment during festive occasions. The honey is a light colour with a beautiful taste reminiscent of butterscotch.
Tawari flowers from October to the end of December but this varies according to location and altitude - usually the more South the latitude and the higher the altitude, the later the flowering.
The nectar is copious and very watery producing a prolific honey crop under ideal conditions - but often with a high final moisture content
Tawari is a predominantly bird pollinated flower with the flower size and structure arranged to deposit pollen from the widely spread anthers on a bird collecting nectar from the centrally located nectaries. Consequently the honey is usually under represented in pollen. Levels as low as 20% Tawari pollen may indicate a good quality Tawari honey (but under ideal conditions we have recorded levels as high as 71%) and levels of more than 30% are routinely achievable. Total pollen levels are also correspondingly low with an average from our database of 57,000 pollen grains per 10 grams of honey.
Tawari is a light coloured honey with an average of 23 mm (Pfund Scale). Other honey floral sources flowering alongside Tawari include Manuka and Rewarewa - both of which are substantially darker (84mm and 93mm respectively) and can have a marked impact on the colour of Tawari honey.
The structure of the flower is laid out in 5s. i.e. five petals, 5 anthers, 5 nectaries, even the pollen grains have have a 5 sided shape.
Tawari is a higher fructose honey. We have few sugar analyses for Tawari at present but from initial data, Glucose is around 30%, Fructose 43% and Sucrose < 1%. This gives the ratios of a very slow crystallizing honey but in fact Tawari has a more pronounced tendency to crystallize than indicated by the ratios. Just another example that the immense variability of honey often produces results that are not always immediately explainable.