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Herbal tea from South Florida  RSS feed

 
Amedean Messan
pollinator
Posts: 928
Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
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In my childhood 20 years ago I grew up on land in Florida of what used to be the everglades.  I will take the common courtesy to mark in a map.

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=montura+ranch+estates+florida&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wl

During this time, I encountered a plant that had a magnificent floral smell strongly tainted with sweet honey after tones.  A small wind will carry this strong fragrance well over 15 feet away when it blossoms, which is amazing because it is a mere 12 inches tall with equal diameter at most!  The smell is so magnificent that to this day after 17 years I still remember.  If you look at the map via satellite view the area looks more dense of human development, but 30 years ago this was almost all uninhabited forest/swamp.  This area I pointed is also home of the now loved Saw Palmetto which when news broke out 20 years ago about its health benefits, a lot of people in my community got generous wages from picking the berries in the forest because they sold on market for $4.00 dollars a pound.  Unbelievable because these things are everywhere there and a good picker could make 4 grand per month at the time. 

Anyways, back to this herb - I used to make tea as a kid out of this wonderful little bush.  To describe the taste, being an average herbal tea drinker the closest flavor I can build on to describe taste is roobios - but this herb was leaps and bounds over it in taste IMO.  Perhaps more accurate, if you were to somehow get the smell of honeysuckle and make it into a taste, add a hint of mint, this might be the best way to describe the flavor of the resultant brewed tea.  For the longest period I believed that this bush may have been documented and as best as I could find on the internet I have not been able to identify a picture to identify this plant.  I now live in North Carolina after being in the army for 6 years in the 82d Airborne Infantry - have since dropped the guns and I am pursuing my engineering degree and love for gardening. 

Thanks to Facebook, I plan to contact a friend that still lives in the area to take a picture.  What I will then do is post the picture here and on other forums to ask gardening experts to possibly identify this plant.  If I have not gotten a positive ID then I will have a sample of this plant to be mailed to me and I will have analysis done at North Carolina A&T to identify this plant.  Afterwards, I will make tea of the remaining samples, mmmMMM.
Here is what I do know....


  • [li]This plant could be endangered or is rare.  I have never seen it anywhere else in Florida (not that I traveled everywhere).[/li]
    [li]This plant may be slow growing. (bummer)[/li]
    [li]This plant is a perennial that appears to be very disease resistant.  [/li]

    [li]This plant grows in sandy soils.[/li]

    [li] Prefers partial shade.[/li]

    [li]Due to the recent human development activity (35 years), I have determined that this plant is likely native.   I have made several observations in my wanderings through the pine/palmetto forests as a child and I have seen vast displacements of germinated clusters of this plant spanning several miles in the region.  This tells me that although it is still possible that this is an introduced species after the Pre-Columbian era, due to the geographical characteristics of the area (forest/swamp density), disease resistance, and the natural pattern of the plant germination in soils specific to South Florida (sandy gray) it is likely native.[/li]



  • I plan to grow this plant because it has a lot of potential.  It is absolutely delicious as an herbal tea.  The extracts of this plant may be to mint as saffron is to turmeric.  I have no idea about antioxidant levels or potential medicinal benefits so I can only speculate.  In time if this turns out to get really big, I will have this research done to measure the antioxidant levels.  I will post pictures of this plant as soon as I contact my friend and she sends me the picture.  This may take awhile so please be patient.  I am open to suggestions.


     
                        
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    What can you say about the form of the plant, the flowers, etc.?

    Here is one interesting Florida native - usually grows in the top 2/3 of the state, is about the right size, and has 'tea' in its name.

    http://hawthornhillwildflowers.blogspot.com/2010/01/littleleaf-new-jersey-tea-ceanothus.html
     
    Amedean Messan
    pollinator
    Posts: 928
    Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
    34
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    Hey, thanks so much for your input.  You sent me a valuable link to an expert on native Florida flowers.  The plant blooms flowers that are purple and may be in the mint family. 
     
    Matthew Fallon
    Posts: 308
    Location: long island, ny Z-7a
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    i wonder if 'green deane' might have it listed on his website or youtube channel. he lives in florida and has a video series called "Eat the Weeds" . really a wealth of knowledge ,
    i learned i can make tea from my holly trees from him

    http://www.eattheweeds.com

     
    Amedean Messan
    pollinator
    Posts: 928
    Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
    34
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    I appreciate the helpful resources of information.  I will do some more internet investigating because there has to be some knowledge of this plant somewhere.  It sounds exciting to potentially find some new plant but I am doubting I found anything new because this plant is so aromatic its hard to miss.  If you ask me, either the plant is unappreciated or not really well known.   
     
                              
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    well i cant help you exactly but i do live in south florida so if you happen to need a scout at any time let know. I would even bee intrested in cultivating it.
     
                              
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    hey try these guys found them to be easy to contact and very helpfull.

    http://www.fnps.org/
     
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