Pollen analysis of Australian honey

J. M. Kale Sniderman*, Kia A. Matley, Simon G. Haberle, David J. Cantrill

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    29 Citations (Scopus)


    Pollen analysis is widely used to verify the geographic origin of honeys, but has never been employed in Australia. In this study, we analysed the pollen content of 173 unblended honey samples sourced from most of the commercial honey producing regions in southern Australia. Southern Australian vegetation is dominated by Eucalyptus (Myrtaceae) forests and, as expected, most Australian honeys are palynologically dominated by Eucalyptus, while other important components include Myrtaceae taxa such as Corymbia/Angophora and the tribe Leptospermeae; plus Brassicaceae, Echium, Macadamia, and Acacia. An important feature of the honeys is the number of Myrtaceae pollen morphotypes per sample, which is generally high (mean = 4.6) compared to honeys produced outside of Australia, including Eucalyptus honeys produced in the Mediterranean region, and honeys produced in South America, which has its own rich indigenous Myrtaceae flora. In the latter regions, the number of Myrtaceae morphotypes is apparently generally 2. A high number of Myrtaceae morphotypes may be a feasible criterion for authenticating the origin of Australian honeys, since most Australian honey is produced by honey bees mainly working indigenous floral resources. Myrtaceae morphotype diversity is a convenient melissopalynological measure that could be applied even where detailed knowledge of the pollen morphology of the many component genera and species is absent. Palynological criteria developed in Europe for authenticating Eucalyptus honeys should not be relied upon for Australian honeys, since those criteria are not based on samples of Australian honey.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0197545
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - May 2018


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