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category: food/groceries: Länderküche: Australien: honey

Nectar, de.: Nektar

Nectar is a sweet liquid produced by flowers to attract insects for pollination. It consists of water, several different sugars like glucose, fructose and sucrose, minerals and aromas. Bees collect nectar to produce honey from it through regurgitation and evaporation of water. In Greek mythology nectar is the food of goods and supposed to grant immortality.

Humans have used nectar as a food source for many thousand years. In Australia many native flowers produce large amounts of sweet nectar. Aboriginal people suck nectar directly from the flowers, shake it into their hands or use it to prepare sweet drinks. They collect flowers and dip or soak them in water. Some Aboriginal groups fermented this watery nectar to a weak alcohol, called bool or bull.

Nectar plants of Australia

Honey bee on yellow Grevillea. Source: fotolia.de, (c) A & B Photos

Many important nectar plants of Australia belong to the family of Proteaceae, especially the genera Banksia and Dryandra, which contain some of the best known flowers of Australia. The nectar producing genera Grevillea and Hakea also belong to the family of Proteaceae. Other good nectar plants are bottlebrushes, shrubs or small trees in the genus of Callistemon.

Cider gum (bot.: Eucalyptus gunnii) is not a nectar plant but produces a sweet sap similar to nectar. It is compared to maple syrup and is won through small holes in the bark of the tree. Some people suspect its future commercial importance for Australia might be similar to that of maple syrup for Canada.

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