Leptosperin - Identifying Genuine Manuka Honey from New Zealand

  • Manuka Honey from New Zealand is made up of several compounds that are found only in the honey from New Zealand's native manuka bush (Leptospermum scoparium)
  • One of the most dominant compounds is Leptosperin
  • Leptosperin is a good indicator of the "manukaness" of honey
  • The higher the level of Leptosperin the greater the presence of the unique manuka honey attributes
  • Leptosperin gives consumers a means of knowing which honey is genuine Manuka Honey

Manuka Honey Identification Project (2013-2016) - The Discovery of Leptosperin

A ground-breaking Manuka Honey Identification Project (2013-2016) carried out by New Zealand's UMF Honey Association has shown each floral type of honey has its own chemical fingerprint and identity ensuring consumers a means of knowing which honey is real genuine manuka honey.

In this project samples of nectar were taken directly from the flower of the manuka plant (Leptospermum scoparium) growing in New Zealand and samples of manuka honey were taken from the hives near those manuka plants.  Samples were taken from many places and regions across the whole of New Zealand.   The core principle being: "If you understand the nectar,  you will understand the honey".

The samples were analysed for their chemical composition and then compared to see if there were any compounds present in both the flower nectar and in the honey.  These compounds were then analysed to see if any were present only in manuka honey and not in any other honey.

The Manuka Honey Identification Project found New Zealand's manuka honey is complex, being made up of a multitude of components some of which are not found in any other floral type of honey.  

The Manuka Honey Identification Project has identified a number of potentially worthwhile chemical markers, and has focused on four of these markers to develop a scientifically-based classification criteria for Manuka Honey that will give confidence to consumers who want to purchase quality authentic Manuka Honey.  

The very best of the four dominant marker compounds of Manuka Honey is Leptosperin.

  • Leptosperin is one of the four most dominant marker compounds in Manuka Honey
  • Leptosperin is present only in the nectar of the flower of the manuka plant (Leptospermum scoparium)
  • Leptosperin's unique presence in the nectar from the manuka flower proves if the honey is derived from manuka plants
  • Leptosperin is abundant in Manuka Honey.  The comparatively high levels of Leptosperin found in manuka honey make it straightforward to test for. 
  • Leptosperin is relatively stable.   In stability trials samples were incubated at 21, 27 and 34 degrees Celsius.  Leptosperin shows little degradation over time, whereas methyglyoxal is not stable and shows a dramatic change and increase then decrease.  Methyglyoxal does not identify manuka honey. 
  • It is difficult to synthesise Leptosperin and thus less likely to be used in any adulteration.
  • Preliminary research indicates that Leptosperin may be bioactive.  Work being done on this by Dr Peter Brooks and Daniel Meloncelli of the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Click here for more about Leptosperin testing as a means to identify genuine Manuka Honey


The respected peer-reviewed scientific publications on Leptosperin and the identification of Manuka Honey include:

  • Identification of Manuka Honey Plausible authentication of manuka honey and related products by measuring leptosperin with methyl syringate.  Kato Y, Fujinaka R, Ishisaka A, Nitta Y, Kitamoto N, Takimoto Y. (2014). J Agric Food Chem., 62(27), 6400-7. doi: 10.1021/jf501475h.
  • Authentication of Manuka Honey:  Immunochemical authentication of manuka honey using a monoclonal antibody specific to a glycoside of methyl syringate. Kato Y, Araki Y, Juri M, Fujinaka R, Ishisaka A, Kitamoto N, Nitta Y, Niwa T, Takimoto Y. (2014). J Agric Food Chem., 62(44), 10672-8. doi: 10.1021/jf503464a
  • Differentiation of Manuka Honey from Kanuka Honey and Jelly Bush Honey Differentiation of Manuka Honey from Kanuka Honey and from Jelly Bush Honey using HS-SPME-GC/MS and UHPLC-PDA-MS/MS.   Beitlich, N., Koelling-Speer, I., Oelschlaegel, S., and Speer, K. (2014).  J Agric Food Chem, 62(27), 6435-6444. doi: 10.1021/jf501818f
  • Identification of Leptosperin:  Identification of a Novel Glycoside, Leptosin, as a Chemical Marker of Manuka Honey.  Yoji Kato, Natsuki Umeda,  Asuna Maeda,  Daiki Matsumoto,  Noritoshi Kitamoto, Hiroe Kikuzaki.  (March 2012).  J.Agric Food Chem  pp1-25.  doi: 10.1021/jf300068w
  • Leptosperin and lepteridine are definitive chemical markers for authentication of manuka honey:   New approach: Chemical and fluorsecence profiling of NZ honeys.  Bong, J., et al.  Food Chemistry (2017)


UMF - The Consumer's Guarantee.  The quality trademark UMF and its level clearly displayed on the front label identifies New Zealand produced manuka honey that has the markers unique to manuka honey.

SummerGlow Apiaries specialise in very high grade UMF16+ Manuka Honey:

  • Guaranteed superior UMF16+
  • Absolutely genuine Manuka Honey.  Very high Leptosperin level 1010mg/kg
  • 100% pure natural honey sourced from the remote unspoilt areas of NZ.
  • Top quality handling. Packed with greatest care to a very high standard ensuring all the natural qualities are retained.
  • Happy users all around the world. 
  • Mail order to thousands of people worldwide. 


A Trusted Mark of Quality - A Guarantee of Authenticity & Purity

UMF stands for "Unique Manuka Factor" and is the only manuka honey grading system that is licensed and audited to verify the honey is true-to-label.

Shop of UMF Honey Here