Cyclopia genistoides

Botanical Name : Cyclopia genistoides
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Podalyrieae
Genus: Cyclopia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales

Common Name :Bush Tea,Honeybush tea, Heuningbos,kustee, coastal tea

Habitat :Cyclopia species (Family: Fabaceae), better known as honeybush, are endemic to the fynbos biome of the Western and Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa. It is adapted to the climate and soil in these areas and grow in nematode free, well drained, sandy to sandy loam soils with low pH, low phosphorus, generally occurring in sites with a relatively mild micro-climate.  In mountainous areas the populations are found on the cooler, wetter southern slopes.  Where there is a regular presence of mist, the populations are found on all slopes.

Description:
Cyclopia genistoides is a small, typical fynbos shrub, easy to miss when not in flower. A much-branched woody shrub with golden yellow stems, it grows to about one metre. The short needle-like leaves are arranged in threes along the branches, a typical feature of Cyclopia. When flowering in spring the same shrub can take your breath away with a bold display of bright yellow flowers.
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Money beetles are attracted to the sweet smelling flowers at the tip of the branches. They are responsible for most of the pollination. The brown seeds are formed in small pods that turn brown. The pods dry and split open within a few weeks as the seed ripens.

Propagation & Cultivation:
Cyclopia genistoides can be propagated by seed or cuttings. The best time to sow seed is from summer to autumn. To select viable seeds throw the seed into a jug of water and remove any seeds that float to the surface. Before sowing the seeds need to be treated. First, the hard seed coat which protects the small seeds, needs to be damage to enable the uptake of moisture for germination. In nature this hard seed coat would slowly be damaged in the soil by micro-organisms and other factors. In the nursery the scarifying of the dry seed can be done with sulfuric acid. Proceed with caution to avoid the chemical coming into contact with one’s skin.. If only a small amount of seed is needed, an easier way to damage the seed coat is to lightly sand the seeds with sandpaper.

The seeds of cyclopias and many other fynbos plants are adapted to germinate after fire. Experiments have shown that it is the smoke of the fire which stimulates the germination of the seed. To get this same effect the seed can be treated with smoke extract, which is produced and sold at Kirstenbosch.The seed must be sown on a medium with good drainage and a low pH of 3.5 to 5. Germination usually takes place within two weeks. To prevent damping off, a fungicide should be used.

The young seedlings are potted up as soon as they are big enough to handle and grown on in the nursery before planting out. Many plants of the legume family, which include cyclopias, are often difficult to root from cuttings, but Cyclopia genistoides is an exception. Tip cuttings can be made using Seradix 2 as a rooting hormone.

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Honeybush needs to be planted in full sun and well-drained soil. The plants are sensitive to severe frost. The plants grow fairly fast but start to look untidy after a few years if not regularly pruned or burned, which is what usually happens in nature. After fire old honeybush plants shoot out vigorously from the surviving roots,which act as a storage organ.

Medicinal Uses:
Often dried and drunk as tea in South Africa.  Also of great value to sufferers from kidney and liver disorders.  To make the tea the stems and leaves are chopped into small pieces, wet and then left in heaps where they ferment spontaneously, They may be heated in an oven to about 60C – 70 C to enhance the process. After sufficient fermentation, the tea is spread out in the sun to dry. After sifting, it is ready for use. Honeybush tea, with its own distinct sweet taste and aroma, is made like ordinary tea, except that simmering enhances the flavor. Drinking honeybush tea is said to promote good health, stimulate the appetite, and the milk flow of lactating mothers.

Honeybush tea is a herbal infusion and many health properties are associated with the regular consumption of the tea. It has very low tannin content and contains no caffeine. It is therefore especially valuable for children and patients with digestive and heart problems where stimulants and tannins should be avoided.

Research on Honeybush tea has only started recently in the 90’s and already great progress was made on testing and researching the medicinal values of this tea. De Nysschen et al found 1995 three major phenolic compounds in honeybush tealeaves: a xanthone c-glycoside, mangiferin and O-glycosides of hesperitin and isosakuranetin, two flavanones.

Honeybush tea is normally consumed with milk and sugar, but to appreciate the delicate sweet taste and flavor, no milk or sugar should be added. Descriptions of the flavor vary from that of hot apricot jam, floral, honey-like and dried fruit mix with the overall impression of sweetness. The tea has the added advantage that the cold infusion can also be used as iced tea and that it blends well with fruit juices. Honeybush tea is prepared by boiling about 4-6 g of the dried material (approximately 2-3 tablespoonfuls) per liter for 20 minutes.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.arc.agric.za/home.asp?pid=4053
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm
http://www.plantzafrica.com/plantcd/cyclopiagenistoides.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclopia_(genus)

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