Posted on Leave a comment

Rooibos Growing Guide

Rooibos Growing Guide

SHORTCUTS: Ideal Environment, How to Plant, How to Water, Companion Planting, How to Propagate, How to Harvest, Parts Used, Preparations, Uses, Key Constituents, Key Actions, Research.

Information

Aspalathus linearis
FAMILY FABACEAE
InformationRooibos (meaning Redbush) is a shrub with needle-like leaves that can grow up to 2 metres in height. The Rooibos plant is endemic to a small part of the Western Cape in South Africa, forming part of the fynbos biome. It grows in a symbiotic relationship with local micro-organisms and according apparently difficult to grow elsewhere.

Growing Environment

Ideal Environment 

The native environment for Rooibos has a unique temperature range which drops to freezing in the winter, and reaches up to 48°C in the summer, similar to a Mediterranean climate.  The plant prefers deep coarse acidic sandy soil and they do not get irrigation in order to stimulate drought conditions.

How to Plant

How to Plant 

Rooibos can be grown from seed and planted in the late summer or spring, commercial growers germinate seeds in greenhouses and plant them out into the fields after four months during autumn. Seeds need to be scarifiedby cutting the seed coat using abrasion or thermal stress to encourage germination.

Watering

How to Water

According to various sources Rooibos is not watered very often to stimulate drought conditions, the best rooibos is said to come from areas with lower rainfall.  Areas where Rooibos is cultivated typically have a winter rainfall between 200 mm and 400 mm per year

Companion Plants

Companion Planting 

Look for plants that prefer similar soil and water conditions.  One commercial grower uses crop rotation with oats to return nutrients to the fields.

Here are the Companion Plants by group: Herbs, Flowers, Trees, Vegetables, Berries, Fruit and Mushrooms

How to Propagate

How to Propagate 

Propagation through seed is most common although root cuttings can be done from semi-woody cuttings in early spring.

Harvest

How to Harvest

Rooibos is harvested once a year during the summer but cutting the young branches,  chopping them finely, watering and airing.  The branches are then left to “sweat” in heaps so it develops the characteristically reddish color and sweet flavor. After sweating the tea is dried in the sun.

Medicinal Plants Parts Used

Parts Used

The leaves and twigs are used.

Medicinal Preparations

Preparations

Rooibos is taken as an infusion, a warm tea with or without milk and honey or sugar.  Rooibos also makes great iced tea.

Plant Uses

Uses

It is a popular health drink because it contains no harmful substances or caffeine. It is also used as a milk substitute for infants who are prone to colic. There is also evidence that the flavonoids contribute to a reduction in heart disease and other ailments. (21)

Constituents

Key Constituents

C-glucoside dihydrochalcones aspalathin and nothofagin amongst others. (21)

Key Actions

Key Actions

Antispasmodic, antioxidant, anti-mutagenic and anti-ageing effects. (21)

Research

Research

Animal studies show that rooibos has potent antioxidant, immune-modulating and chemopreventive effects. A review found no documentation of adverse side effects of consuming rooibos tea. (22)


USEFUL LINKS: About the Growing Guides, The Medicine Garden, Companion Plants, Basic Preparations and Plant Constituents. Disclaimer. References.

Posted on Leave a comment

Aloe Ferox Growing Guide

Aloe Ferox Growing Guide

SHORTCUTS: Ideal Environment, How to Plant, How to Water, Companion Planting, How to Propagate, How to Harvest, Parts Used, Preparations, Uses, Key Constituents, Key Actions, Research.

Information

Bitter Aloe, Umhlaba
FAMILY ASPHODELACEAE
Aloe Ferox is a robust plant that can grow to 3 meters high and it is indigenous to South Africa. It is one of several Aloe species used to make a purgative medication, and also yields a gel that can be used in cosmetics. The leaves are tick and fleshy with reddish-brown spines and red or orange flowers. Aloe ferox is listed on the plant list of endangered plants.

Growing Environment

Ideal Environment 

Aloe ferox prefers dry-tropical climates, open areas, sandy-loamy soils and full sun. Give each Aloe plant at least 1 meter spacing.

How to Plant

How to Plant 

You can grow Aloe Ferox from seeds, sow just under the surface in a sandy soil.  Water regularly and make sure the soil drains well.  Transplant into small pots or bags once they are about 4cm high (approximately 6 months).  From seed it takes about 4 to 5 years for the plants to reach the first harvest.

Watering

How to Water

Once the plant is established or from about 20 centimetres in size you can water moderately, once a week.  If you are growing your Aloe in a container take care not to over water.

Companion Plants

Companion Planting 

Aloe Ferox can grow with other plants that prefer full sun, open areas and well draining sandy soil, such as other Aloes or succulent plants.

Here are the Companion Plants by group: Herbs, Flowers, Trees, Vegetables, Berries, Fruit and Mushrooms

How to Propagate

How to Propagate 

Aloe ferox plants are propagated mainly from seed and cuttings.  The side branches or basal sprout are removed and the wound is allowed to dry off for some time before planting.

Harvest

How to Harvest

Harvesting is done in winter by manual leaf cutting. Only the 10 to 15 lower leaves of an adult Aloe Ferox plant are harvested. The leaves are cut as close to the stem as possible and stacked in a round tower so that the yellow exudate drips into a hollow in the centre which is lined with a plastic sheet.

Medicinal Plants Parts Used

Parts Used

Leaves and roots. The bitter yellow juice is found just under the surface of the leaf and is tapped to form a dark brown resin which is a solid lump.  Aloe gel comes from the inner fleshy part of the leaf and is often use in cosmetics.

Medicinal Preparations

Preparations

A small crystal about 5mm in size is taken orally as a laxative. Half the dose is taken for arthiritis. The fresh bitter sap is also instilled directly for conjunctivitis and sinusitis. (21)

Plant Uses

Uses

The leaves and roots can be boiled and used as a laxative, for arthritis, eczema, conjunctivitis, hypertension and stress.

Constituents

Key Constituents

The main purgative principle is the anthrone C-glucoside aloin (=barbaloin). The aloin content in exudate varies between 8,5 and 32%. The gel polysaccharides are binogalactan and rhamnogalacturonan types. Aloe gel is a watery mixture of pectic substances, amino acids, minerals, trace elements and organic acids amongst others. (21)

Key Actions

Key Actions

The wound-healing properties of aloe gel come from glycoproteins and is responsible for the hydrating, insulating and protective effects. The anthraquinone derivatives act as a laxative. (21)

Research

Research

Aloe vera has been the subject of numerous studies with results ranging from skin and wound-healing properties, laxative, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-cancer, antimalarial and anthelmintic activities. Aloe Ferox research is something that has started more recently, for example the Aloe Council of South Africa was founded in 2006.


USEFUL LINKS: About the Growing Guides, The Medicine Garden, Companion Plants, Basic Preparations and Plant Constituents. Disclaimer. References.