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Chembu or Honey tree (Dombiya spectabilis)

Honey tree

Chembu or honey tree (dombiya spectabilis)

Botanical name: Dombeya spectabilis

Family: Malvaceae (Mallow family)

Synonyms: Assonia spectabilis

Flowering time : October – February

Why it’s called honey tree?

Mr P.T Thampi, a 40 years experienced beekeeper and trainer (MADHUSREE HONEY & BEE FARM) discovered that Dombeya spectabilis produces abundant flowers which is a favorite food for honey bees and rich with sources of pollen.

As per P.T Thampi’s view one single honey  tree can produce pollen and honey worth 10 to 12 box of Indian bee and nearly 20 box of stingless bee. He also observed that the bees are collecting pollen and honey from the dombeya tree throughout the day. The main speciality of this tree is that it has a long flowering time which starts from October to feb. During this time even a 3 year old single plant will have around 5000 -12,000 flowers every day and each of them consists of around 40 – 70 petals filled with honey and pollen.


honey tree

In Kerala division of bee colonies starts from sep – jan. During this period there maybe shortage of pollen and honey which compels bee keepers artificial sugar feeding which causes diseases like mite, thai sack brood virus etc.. Such situations can be avoided by planting honey trees in their land and thereby collecting enough honey even in off season.

Scientific details of Honey tree

Dombeya is a small tree with large maple-shaped leaves and dense heads of little pinkish white flowers. It differs from the Dombeya Wallichii in many respects. Firstly its flowers are lighter in color, not as pink as the Pink Ball. Secondly the stalks from which the flower bunches hang are much shorter than those in Pink Ball. Thirdly, and the most importantly, the leaves a very much lobed like a maple like, whereas in the Pink Ball, the leaves toothed and nicely heart-shaped. Leaves broadly circular, 2-7 cm long and broad, subscabrous on both sides, shallowly 3-lobed, serrate, nerves beneath rusty pubescent; petiole 2-5 cm long, downy. Inflorescence an axillary, elongated cyme; peduncle 3-7 cm long, downy. Flowers pinkish, 2-2.5 cm across; stalk 1.5-2 cm long, downy. Sepals linear-lanceolate, c. 1 cm long, c. 2-3 mm broad, pubescent outside. petals oblique-obovate, c. 1.5 cm long and broad, retuse. Carpels 5; ovary globose, villose. Capsule globose, pentagonal, c. 5 mm in diameter, villous. The plant is native to Madagascar, but widely grown as a large roadside shrub in Delhi. The name is in honor of Joseph Dombay, a French medical man and botanist who made extensive plant collections in Peru and Chile.

article written by: Binu P.T

Madhusree Honey Farm