The mild taste of Africa-grown rooibos—pronounced Roy-boss—(Aspalathus linearis) has made it a very popular ingredient in various herbal-tea blends. The name means “red bush;” a flowering shrub that grows in the Cedarberg mountain region in South Africa’s western cape, north of Cape Town.
Rooibos is an erect shrub that grows about five feet high. It sports reddish-brown stems and bright-green needlelike leaves. Since it’s a legume, the root contains nodules inhabited by nitrogen-fixing bacteria. This characteristic enables the plant to survive the nutrient-poor, acidic soils of the Cedarberg region.
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There are about 900 different varieties of sage (Salvia). These lants—members of the mint family—offer interesting and diverse aromas, textures, and colors. Their flowers produce abundant nectar, making them a favorite destination of bees. Many varieties, such as the cardinal and painted sage, serve as picturesque ornamentals and combine well with other garden plants. Some varieties boast medicinal and culinary uses.
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There are about 350 species of thyme. Since they readily hybridize (blend with other species) in cultivation, their classification is quite complex. Many produce good garden plants, which are easy to grow and exhibit fragrant foliage and small pink or lilac flowers. Although the flowers are small, they’re numerous and produce copious amounts of bee-pleasing nectar. Some of the finest-flavored honey comes from thyme plants.
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