|Neutral ||Juliaalexander ||On Sep 9, 2012, Juliaalexander from London
United Kingdom wrote:
The native habitat of Sideritis Syriaca is on fast-draining magnesium-limestones and marble-rubble, on south-facing slopes and collapsed plateaux, at heights of 900 to 2000 metres in the Greek mountains, including the Parnonas and Taygettos ranges (Peloponnesos), up to the Gramos and the Pindos ranges in north west Greece (and, for all I know, on the other side of the Alabanian border too). All these heights are subject to year-round high winds and low night temperatures, with frosts and occasional snow (heavy in the north) at any time from November through March, and to strong sunlight for much of the year. In ideal locations, it grows to a height of about 12 inches, though around 8 inches or less is more usual. The flowers, leaves and tough, woody stems are all used for tea. They have traditionally been picked by the shepherds, where they have dried in situ, in the months from early August through to end-September. Because the herb is highly valued and much used in Greece - indeed, a request for 'tsai' = tea in the mountains will produce not black tea, but a delicious infusion of sideritis - the plant has been severely over-picked, especially in places that have recently become very much more accessible through modern road construction, notably in the vicinity of the cities of Kalamata and Iannina. Plant- and seed-collectors therefore please note that Sideritis syriaca is now a protected botanical heritage item, and picking is restricted in most areas. As an aside, I suspect the 'Tsai tou vounou' gathered in Crete, the Dodecannese and Asia Minor may be a slightly different species: it is less vigorous, with thinner leaves and stems, and seems to be generally much smaller, up to about 4 inches, and of inferior aroma/flavor. It could be the same plant, just not thriving where the climate is so much drier through April and May, but the texture of the leaves, both fresh and dried, seems different to me. I'm not a botanist. My observations are based on many years of exploring the Greek mountains on foot.
Hope this is useful.
|Neutral ||renwings ||On Oct 31, 2005, renwings from Sultan, WA (Zone 8a) wrote:
traditional greek tea brewed from dried leaves used to treat common cold.
In the wild, plants thrive on sunny, rocky, dry hillsides.