Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Allure of FYNBOS

Fynbos is one of the earth’s hot spots because of its exceptional biodiversity. It’s little wonder that Fynbos which literally means ‘fine bush’ has been touted for its unique type of vegetation that accounts for more than 80 percent of the plant species in the Cape Floral Kingdom. And, more than two-thirds of these plant species are not found growing naturally anywhere else in the world. Many of these amazing plants have been used for their decorative and gardening purposes, medicinal purposes and even their magical powers. Despite the growing interest in fynbos, it still remains a mystery to many people. Some species can be found growing right under their noses and they don’t even realize it.

Fynbos is composed of approximately 100 families with the three largest and most well known families being: the ericas, proteas and restos. With that in mind, there are plenty more families to get to know – Here are just a few of our favorites:

Agapanthus means ‘Flower of Love’ and is derived from the Greek agape’ meaning ‘love’ and anthos meaning ‘flower’. They are also known as the ‘lily of the Nile’ and the ‘African lily’ even though they are not a lily. Did you know in the world of magic the agapanthus is a highly respected plant? The roots can be used to make a love charm and their magical powers even ward off thunder. And, agapanthus can serve as a fire-break if you plant it close enough to the house.

Egyptians called the aloe vera plant “plant of immortality,” 6,000 years ago. Cleopatra applied the moist middle of the spiky plant to her body as part of her beauty regimen. Greeks used it to cure everything from baldness to insomnia and the Native Americans called it the “Wand of the Heaven.”

Leonotis leonurus is also known as wild dagga and lion's tail. Wild dagga flowers and leaves were smoked by the Hottentot tribe of southern Africa because of its euphoric effect. In traditional healing, wild dagga is used to treat fevers, headaches, coughs and skin rashes. It's also used as a charm to keep snakes at bay, and has been used to treat snake bites.

Tulbaghia Violacea or wild garlic is also called Society Garlic because Dutch settlers thought it was a more polite spice to use for flavoring dishes than true garlic particularly for social events. And, the Zulu used both the flowers and the leaves to make hot seasoning with meat and potatoes. Tulbaghia is a disinfectant, and the bulb has been used to treat cough and colds.

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