Kourtney Kardashian hawks its health benefits. Counterfeiters and chemists labor to unlock its molecular secrets. And now it’s at the center of an international branding war.

It’s honey, but not just any honey. It’s Manuka honey, a sweet extravagance from New Zealand that sells for a sticky $2.50 an ounce–six times the cost of conventional honey–and has attracted a slew of famous fans. Kardashian, who has a promotional contract, claims Manuka is responsible for her robust health and soft skin. “On our show when we’re filming, our crew would eat Manuka by the spoonful,” the reality show star recently told Amazon’s style channel.

More than 7,000 miles away from Hollywood, biologist Simon Williams is trying to help Australia cash in on the Manuka craze. He treks through the Australian bush searching for trees in the same genus as Manuka, dodging wildlife at every turn. “One wombat kept trying to give me love bites on my feet,” he says.

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A photo posted by Kourtney Kardashian (@kourtneykardash) on

But not everyone thinks that the trees Williams is surveying are legitimate sources of Manuka honey–created by bees who gather their nectar. Real Manuka, they say, can only come from New Zealand, which is why that country’s Manuka Honey Appellation Society recently submitted a certification trademark application for the words “Manuka Honey.” If the application succeeds, New Zealanders will have exclusive use of the international brand, in the same way that only sparkling wine from a certain region of Northern France can legally be called champagne.

Manuka honey has more than just the lure of exclusivity. While there’s no evidence it protects Kardashian from the common cold, Manuka does have useful antibacterial properties. Most honeys kill some bacteria because they contain peroxide, which eats away at the bugs’ protective cell walls. Manuka honey, by contrast, can attack a bacterium in many ways: disrupting communication, inhibiting movement, and destroying digestive enzymes, as well as breaking down its cell walls. This intricate attack strategy could make Manuka honey more effective against antibiotic-resistant bacteria like MRSA.

Beyond its antibacterial benefits, Manuka honey (and other honey) has some wound-healing properties. When health-care workers put strips of honey over burns, for example, researchers found they healed four to five days faster. “They draw the infection out of the wound, they kill the infection, and they heal the wound underneath so the tissue regenerates,” says Peter Brooks, a biochemist who advises Williams at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia. He currently studies Manuka’s anti-inflammatory properties.

With these health benefits and celebrity endorsements, demand for Manuka is growing fast–the country’s honey exports leapt to $285 million in 2015 from $202 million in 2014. To no one’s surprise, New Zealand is fighting to keep the coveted brand for itself. John Rawcliffe, a representative of New Zealand’s Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association, refers to Australian Manuka as “Tea Tree” or “Jellybush” honey.