is a genus of flowering plants well known for their medicinal properties. They are abundant in Mediterranean regions, the Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...
, the Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...
Macaronesia is a modern collective name for several groups of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean near Europe and North Africa belonging to three countries: Portugal, Spain, and Cape Verde...
, but can also be found in Central Europe and temperate Asia.
History and etymology
In Greek "Sideritis" can be literally translated as "he who is or has the iron". The plant was known to ancient Greeks, specifically Dioscorides and Theophrastus
Theophrastus , a Greek native of Eresos in Lesbos, was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. He came to Athens at a young age, and initially studied in Plato's school. After Plato's death he attached himself to Aristotle. Aristotle bequeathed to Theophrastus his writings, and...
. Although Dioscorides describes three species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...
, only one (probably S. scordioides
) is thought to relate to Sideritis. In ancient times Sideritis was a generic reference for plants capable of healing wounds caused by iron weapons during battles. However others hold that the name stems from the shape of the sepal
A sepal is a part of the flower of angiosperms . Collectively the sepals form the calyx, which is the outermost whorl of parts that form a flower. Usually green, sepals have the typical function of protecting the petals when the flower is in bud...
which resembles the tip of a spear.
In 2002, a molecular phylogenetic study
Research can be defined as the scientific search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method...
and five other genera to be embedded
A group of taxa is said to be paraphyletic if the group consists of all the descendants of a hypothetical closest common ancestor minus one or more monophyletic groups of descendants...
Stachys is one of the largest genera in the flowering plant family Lamiaceae. Estimates of the number of species in the genus vary from about 300, to about 450. The type species for the genus is Stachys sylvatica. Stachys is in the subfamily Lamioideae...
. Further studies will be needed before Stachys
, and their closest relatives can be revised.
According to the classification scheme of EOL
The Encyclopedia of Life is a free, online collaborative encyclopedia intended to document all of the 1.9 million living species known to science. It is compiled from existing databases and from contributions by experts and non-experts throughout the world...
there are three species: Sideritis lanata
(hairy ironwort), Sideritis montana
(mountain ironwort) and Sideritis romana
Some schemes (such as Wikispecies
) recognize intermediate subphyla
In life, a subphylum is a taxonomic rank intermediate between phylum and superclass. The rank of subdivision in plants and fungi is equivalent to subphylum.Not all phyla are divided into subphyla...
, infraphyla, subclass
In biological classification, class is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, order, family, genus, and species, with class fitting between phylum and order...
es and superorders and categorize up to 319 distinct species, subspecies
Subspecies in biological classification, is either a taxonomic rank subordinate to species, ora taxonomic unit in that rank . A subspecies cannot be recognized in isolation: a species will either be recognized as having no subspecies at all or two or more, never just one...
In evolutionary ecology, an ecotype,Greek: οίκος = home and τύπος = type, coined by Göte Turesson in 1922 sometimes called ecospecies, describes a genetically distinct geographic variety, population or race within species , which is adapted to specific environmental conditions.Typically, ecotypes...
Polymorphism in biology occurs when two or more clearly different phenotypes exist in the same population of a species — in other words, the occurrence of more than one form or morph...
or cultivars, including:
- S. scardica
- S. purpurea Talb. - found in western Greece, the Ionian islands and Crete
- S. remota Urv.
- S. scardica Gris. - also known as Olympus
Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece, located on the border between Thessaly and Macedonia, about 100 kilometres away from Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city. Mount Olympus has 52 peaks. The highest peak Mytikas, meaning "nose", rises to 2,917 metres...
- S. theezans Boiss & Heldr - found in Peloponnese
The Peloponnese, Peloponnesos or Peloponnesus , is a large peninsula , located in a region of southern Greece, forming the part of the country south of the Gulf of Corinth...
- S. raiseri Boiss & Heldr
- S. euboea Heldr - found in the island of Euboea
Euboea is the second largest Greek island in area and population, after Crete. The narrow Euripus Strait separates it from Boeotia in mainland Greece. In general outline it is a long and narrow, seahorse-shaped island; it is about long, and varies in breadth from to...
- S. syriaca L., S. cretica Boiss, S. boissieri Magn. - found in Crete and collectively known as Malotira (Μαλοτήρα)
Botanists have encountered difficulties in naming and classifying the varieties of Sideritis due to their subtile differences. One particularly confusing case is that of S. angustifolia
Lagasca and S. tragoriganum
The genus is composed of short (8–50 cm), xerophytic
A xerophyte or xerophytic organism is a plant which has adapted to survive in an environment that lacks water, such as a desert. Xerophytic plants may have adapted shapes and forms or internal functions that reduce their water loss or store water during long periods of dryness...
A subshrub or dwarf shrub is a short woody plant. Prostrate shrub is a similar term.It is distinguished from a shrub by its ground-hugging stems and lower height, with overwintering perennial woody growth typically less than 10–20 cm tall, or by being only weakly woody and/or persisting...
s or herb
A herbaceous plant is a plant that has leaves and stems that die down at the end of the growing season to the soil level. They have no persistent woody stem above ground...
s, annual or perennial, that grow at high altitudes (usually over 1000 m) with little or no soil, often on the surface of rocks.
It is pubescent
Trichomes are fine outgrowths or appendages on plants and certain protists. These are of diverse structure and function. Examples are hairs, glandular hairs, scales, and papillae.- Algal trichomes :...
, either villous or coated by a fine, woolly layer of microscopic intertwined hairs.
An inflorescence is a group or cluster of flowers arranged on a stem that is composed of a main branch or a complicated arrangement of branches. Strictly, it is the part of the shoot of seed plants where flowers are formed and which is accordingly modified...
Uses and benefits
Very popular in Greece, Albania, Bulgaria and Republic of Macedonia the plant is used as a herb either for the preparation of tea (more accurately tisane
A herbal tea, tisane, or ptisan is a herbal or plant infusion and usually not made from the leaves of the tea bush . Typically, herbal tea is simply the combination of boiling water and dried fruits, flowers or herbs. Herbal tea has been imbibed for nearly as long as written history extends...
) or for its aromatic properties in local cuisines. Preparation of tea involves boiling the stems, leaves and flowers in a pot of water and serve with honey and lemon.
Sideritis has been traditionally used to aid digestion, strengthen the immune system
An immune system is a system of biological structures and processes within an organism that protects against disease by identifying and killing pathogens and tumor cells. It detects a wide variety of agents, from viruses to parasitic worms, and needs to distinguish them from the organism's own...
and suppress common cold
The common cold is a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory system, caused primarily by rhinoviruses and coronaviruses. Common symptoms include a cough, sore throat, runny nose, and fever...
, the flu and other viruses, allergies and shortness of breath
Dyspnea , shortness of breath , or air hunger, is the subjective symptom of breathlessness.It is a normal symptom of heavy exertion but becomes pathological if it occurs in unexpected situations...
, sinus congestion, even pain and mild anxiety.
Scientists have suggested that the popular pronouncement of mountain tea as panacea
The panacea , named after the Greek goddess of healing, Panacea, also known as panchrest, was supposed to be a remedy that would cure all diseases and prolong life indefinitely...
may be remarkably close to the truth. Modern tests have indicated that the tea helps in the prevention of osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a disease of bones that leads to an increased risk of fracture. In osteoporosis the bone mineral density is reduced, bone microarchitecture is deteriorating, and the amount and variety of proteins in bone is altered...
while its anti-oxidant properties aid in the prevention of cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...
. Studies also indicate a positive effect on almost anything that ails. Sideritis is known scientifically to be anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory
Anti-inflammatory refers to the property of a substance or treatment that reduces inflammation. Anti-inflammatory drugs make up about half of analgesics, remedying pain by reducing inflammation as opposed to opioids, which affect the central nervous system....
, and anti-oxidant. Active elements include diterpenoids, flavonoids, and its essential oils. Significant research has been done on Sideritis
confirming its popular use to prevent colds, flu, and allergies. Most of this research has taken place in universities in the Netherlands and in Greece, Turkey, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Albania, where the plant is indigenous.
is the most common cultivar of Sideritis in Greece, Albania and Republic of Macedonia advanced hybrids also exist. Planting is recommended during two periods (October–November or February–March in the Northern hemisphere) and gathering in July, when in full bloom. The plant is typically dried before usage.
Health Benefit Reports
- http://eugenia.queru.com/2007/04/21/greek-mountain-tea/ How to prepare Greek Mountain Tea
- http://www.teasbyvoudou.com Check the health benefits page of www.voudouhealth.com for a free research paper.