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Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Aspalathus linearis

None known

  • Medicinal Use

    Rooibos was traditionally used by the Bushmen and Hottentots of South Africa and is becoming increasingly popular in the West as a pleasant tasting tea that also has health benefits[268].

    A tea made from the leaves and stems of rooibos is generally beneficial to the digestive system and relaxes spasms[238], it has been used in the treatment of vomiting, diarrhoea and other mild gastric complaints[268]. It has also been shown to be of benefit when used internally and externally in the treatment of a wide range of allergies especially milk allergy[268], eczema, hay fever and asthma in infants[238].

  • Edible Use

    A tea made from the dried fermented leaves tastes similar to oriental tea made from Camellia sinensis[238]. It is less astringent, however, due to the lower tannin content[238]. It is caffeine-free, but has a higher content of fluoride which might help to protect against tooth decay[238]. Recent research has shown that this tea contains a substance similar to superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant compound that is thought to retard the ageing process[238]. The leaves and stems are harvested in the summer, fermented and sun dried for later use[238].

    The leaves are sometimes used as a flavouring in foods and in baking[268].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow late spring in a greenhouse covering the seed with about 10mm of soil[238, 268]. It will probably be beneficial to pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water prior to sowing. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots of well-drained sandy soil as soon as they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer after the last expected frosts. It will probably be wise to give the plants protection from the cold and from excessive rain for at least their first winter outdoors. Cuttings of half-ripe wood in a closed frame in early summer[200].
Requires a very well-drained acid sandy soil and a warm sunny position[200]. When grown in pots it needs to be kept dry but not arid in the winter[200]. This species tolerates several degrees of frost in its native habitat[200], though this cannot be applied directly to plants grown in Britain because of our cooler summers and colder, wetter winters. Plants are said to be frost-tolerant in one report[238], but in general plants are usually pot-grown in greenhouses in this country and can be brought into the garden for the summer[200]. Cultivated commercially for its leaves, which are used to make a tea. Rooibos is one of the few wild species to have been developed as a commercial crop in the last 100 years[238]. It is grown for use as a tea, though it is also used medicinally[238]. Commercial plantations last for about 7 years before they need to be replaced. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200].
S. Africa – south and south-west Cape.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.