Belonging to the Rutaceae family, it is native to the most eastern regions of China and Korea and has dimensional characteristics similar to our common beech but, unlike, it has a very fast growth, reaches in a few years 10/12 meters of height with the trunk of 25/30 cm, slowing considerably in the rest of the years until reaching, in the decades, even 20/25 meters. The trunk has very smooth bark, gray / green practically identical to the aforementioned beech. Despite having a very fast growth, even when young the wood is hard and resistant.
It is the flowering that makes the honey tree a unique and very important plant for our latitudes! the flowers are rather small and give off an intense mellifluous scent and recall the shape of a small water lily, they are grouped in showy inflorescences that make them look like a single flower. In the inflorescence we find both the male and female flowers with the certainty that the latter are certainly pollinated. There are also specimens with only male flowers with more pollen content. Of white / cream color, they can be compared, both for color and size, to those of our common elderberry (sambucus spp) but with a more globose shape. The most important characteristic of the honey tree flowers is however the period and the duration of their flowering: they bloom in fact towards the end of the summer, being able to anticipate or delay according to the exposure, the orography, the latitude, etc., and it lasts almost a month even if the weather conditions allow it in a rather miserable period of blooms, especially the abundant and honey-like ones.
Towards October the flower gives way to tiny orange fruits in the form of small pumpkins which, when ripe in November, open and let fall 4/6 seeds of brown / black shiny, oily, circular shaped dishes that colonize the ground below.
The flowering period, its duration and the high pollen content of its flowers, make it an essential plant for beekeepers, in particular, and for the whole eco system in general. The very late flowering, not rare but anomalous, and the high pollen content of its honey tree flowers are elements to be considered indispensable for the management and health of the bees and of the whole apiary.
The quantity of pollen contained in the single flower that forms the entire inflorescence is so high that the bees, if to fill the honeybee, normally have to visit 40/60 flowers of other species, with those of the honey tree it is enough 3/4 and they can fit into the hives. To make a comparison if in one hectare of robinia (Robinia pseudoacacia) the bees can produce 6/800 kg of honey, in as many surfaces of the myelene tree they can produce 1,100 / 1,300.
During the period of rest or absence of honey blossoms, the beekeeper must provide himself with the feeding of the bees in the hives and the honey obtained from the pollen of the flowers of the honey tree, not very appealing to humans, is excellent for bees. The properties of this honey are remarkable and go far beyond simple nourishment. Studies have shown that the bees, which during the winter were fed honey, obtained from the honey tree were free from attacks of nosemiasis, the typical winter diarrhea that leads to death almost certain. Scholars have noted that the plague, both Italian and American, has little rooted in the bees’ families. The same varroe, the parasitic mite that attacks the larvae, finds the larvae more resistant.
It is therefore clear that for the beekeeper the honey tree is important both for the honey produced in the summer that saves, and can sell, both for the completely organic and free health care that it provides to the apiary.
Even the oil seeds that appear at the end of autumn are a very important source of food! In fact, many birds like to eat them taking at the same time all the antibacterial and antiviral properties they contain, although with less effect due to the higher weight of birds compared to bees.
Join our list
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.