Plant of the month: October
Also known as: tea
Native To: China and Assam
Blooms: spring or autumn
Habitat: cultivated on subtropical forest hillsides on acidic soils
Where Found At Birmingham Botanical Gardens: Subtropical House
ANYONE FOR A CUPPA CHA?
Tea is one of the world’s great beverages and is manufactured from the leaves of this subtropical, evergreen shrub. It has been used in China for almost 5,000 years. Harvesting involves plucking the bud and two small leaves, usually by hand. This takes place every 7 to 14 days with one tea bush having a life span of 40 to 50 years. Like coffee, tea contains the stimulant, caffeine. This shrub or small tree can attain a height of between 1m (when regularly harvested) up to 6m if left alone. It has beautiful white flowers, 2cm across, with yellow stamens, borne either singly or in pairs in the leaf axils.