A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

header photo

Mountain Tea

This is Sideritis or "mountain tea", possibly Sideritis curvidens.                 You'll notice it's dried and I bought this at our local herb shop in the village. Still it is a local herb and one I shall be trying out later on and hopefully discover for myself in the wild next spring!

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. Although Dioscorides describes three species, 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 which resembles the tip of a spear.

Very popular in Greece, Albania, Bulgaria and Macedonia, the plant is used as a herb either for the preparation of herbal teas, or for its aromatic properties in local cuisines. The herbal tea is commonly prepared by decoction, by boiling the stems, leaves and flowers in a pot of water, then often serving with honey and lemon.

Ironwort has been traditionally used to aid digestion, strengthen the immune system and suppress common cold, the flu and other viruses, allergies and shortness of breath, sinus congestion, even pain and mild anxiety.

Scientists have suggested that the popular pronouncement of ironwort as panacea may have some basis in fact. Studies indicate a positive effect on many common ailments. Ironwort is known scientifically to be anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant. Active elements include diterpenoids, flavonoids, and its essential oils. Significant research has been done on ironwort 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.

Go Back