Cases of wild honey poisoning were reported in the early 1900s. Although it was not known where the poison originated, tutu was suspected as it grew in abundance in the Bay of Plenty, and the symptoms were similar to those from tutu. In the 1940s, investigation of a batch of toxic honey from the Bay of Plenty led to the discovery of mellitoxin, closely related to tutin (the poison from the tutu plant). The connection to tutu was made when it was noticed that bees were collecting honeydew from vine hoppers, which in turn were feeding on tutu.
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Photograph by Jeremy Rolfe
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