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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids I
Ordo: Fabales

Familia: Fabaceae
Subfamilia: Faboideae
Tribus: Podalyrieae
Genus: Cyclopia
Species: C. alopecuroides – C. alpina – C. aurescens – C. bolusii – C. bowieana – C. burtonii – C. buxifolia – C. falcata – C. filiformis – C. galioides – C. genistoides – C. glabra – C. intermedia – C. latifolia – C. laxiflora – C. longifolia – C. maculata – C. meyeriana – C. plicata – C. pubescens – C. sessiliflora – C. squamosa – C. subternata
Source(s) of checklist:

Cyclopia Vent., 1808

Type species: Cyclopia genistoides (L.) Vent.


Ibbetsonia Sims, Bot. Mag. t. 1259 (1810)

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Africa
Regional: Southern Africa
Cape Provinces

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
Primary references

Ventenat, É.P. 1808. Decas Generum Novorum, aut Parum Cognitorum: 8

Additional references

Govaerts, R.H.A. 1999. World Checklist of Seed Plants 3(1, 2a & 2b). 1532 pp.. MIM, Deurne. ISBN 90-5720-098-8 (issue 1), ISBN 90-5720-099-6 (issue 2b). Reference page.


Govaerts, R. et al. 2021. Cyclopia in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 May 26. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2021. Cyclopia. Published online. Accessed: May 26 2021. 2021. Cyclopia. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 May 26.
Hassler, M. 2021. Cyclopia. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2021. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 May 26. Reference page.
Hassler, M. 2021. World Plants. Synonymic Checklist and Distribution of the World Flora. . Cyclopia. Accessed: 26 May 2021.

Vernacular names
Deutsch: Honigbüsche
日本語: ハニーブッシュ
Nederlands: Honingbos
polski: Honeybush
українська: Циклопія
Tiếng Việt: Honeybush

Cyclopia, the honeybush, or heuningbos in Afrikaans, is a genus of some 20 species of flowering plants in the legume family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. Its description was published by the French botanist Étienne Pierre Ventenat in 1808. The name Ibbetsonia, published two years later, is regarded as a synonym of this genus;[5] John Sims had commemorated the physiologist Agnes Ibbetson with this name.[5]

Cultivation and use

The leaves of honeybush are commonly used to make herbal teas. It grows only in small areas in the southwest and southeast of South Africa and has many similarities with rooibos. Honeybush and rooibos are considered types of red tea.

Honeybush is so named because the flowers smell of honey. The taste of honeybush tea is similar to that of rooibos but a little sweeter. In some rural districts, it used to be common practice to keep a kettle of honeybush tea infusing on the stove ready for drinking while scenting the whole house—unlike tea prepared from Camellia sinensis, the product does not turn bitter with long-term simmering.

There are dozens of species of honeybush tea found in the wild, of which about four or five are in widespread home or commercial use. These are:[6][7][8]

Cyclopia intermedia, known as 'bergtee' (mountain tea), found between Port Elizabeth and the edge of the Langkloof
Cyclopia genistoides, known as 'kustee' (coastal tea), found mostly in the Western Cape near Yzerfontein and Darling and also thriving in the South Cape if cultivated
Cyclopia maculata, grown in the Outeniqua area near George
Cyclopia sessiliflora, known as 'Heidelberg-tee', named after the town Heidelberg in South Africa, where it grows in the local mountain range
Cyclopia subternata, known as 'vleitee' (marshland tea) or 'valleitee' (valley tea)
Cyclopia longifolia[9]

Some species can be cultivated whereas others have resisted all attempts at cultivation and must be harvested in the wild. It is not always easy to discover what the seeds need to enable them to germinate; some kinds bear elaiosomes and might be dependent on the services of particular ants or birds. Cyclopia intermedia (mountain tea) is one of the teas that is harvested in the Kouga mountains where it grows naturally. Mountain tea regenerates within three years after harvesting or devastation by fire; consequently less than one third of the mountain yield is available for harvesting each year by rotation.[10]

Mountain tea and valley tea flower in September/October whereas coastal tea flowers in May/June.[11]
Tea preparation

There are two methods of processing honeybush for use in tea. In the traditional method, the leaves of the bush are harvested, cut and bruised (often with mechanical rollers), and then left in the sun to oxidise. The modern, industralised process oxidises the leaves in rotating, heated tanks at temperatures of 70–90 °C, for two to three days. The leaves are then air-dried.

Afterwards, the leaves are sifted and graded according to the application:

Super Fine (mostly used for string-and-tag tea bags)
Regular Fine (mostly used for swimming tea bags or loose tea application)
Coarse (mostly used for loose tea application)


Honeybush is low in tannin (0.45%). Some of the bioactive compounds present in honeybush include:[12][13]

cinnamic acids
mangiferin and isomangiferin (Cyclopia subternata)


Cyclopia comprises the following species:[4][14][15]
Section Aequalis
Cyclopia genistoides

Cyclopia burtonii Hofmeyr & E. Phillips
Cyclopia buxifolia (Burm. f.) Kies
Cyclopia laxiflora Benth.

Section Cyclopia

Cyclopia alpina A.L. Schutte
Cyclopia falcata (Harv.) Kies (= Cyclopia subternata Vogel) [16]
Cyclopia galioides (Bergius) DC.
Cyclopia genistoides (L.) Vent.
Cyclopia intermedia E. Mey.

Section Marsupium

Cyclopia latifolia DC.
Cyclopia sessiliflora Eckl. & Zeyh.
Cyclopia squamosa A.L. Schutte

Section Praegnans

Cyclopia alopecuroides A.L. Schutte
Cyclopia aurescens Kies
Cyclopia bolusii Hofmeyr & E. Phillips
Cyclopia bowieana Harv.
Cyclopia glabra (Hofmeyr & E. Phillips) A.L. Schutte
Cyclopia meyeriana Walp.

Section Truncatae

Cyclopia filiformis Kies
Cyclopia longifolia Vogel
Cyclopia maculata (Andrews) Kies
Cyclopia plicata Kies
Cyclopia pubescens Eckl. & Zeyh.


Boatwright JS; Savolainen V; Van Wyk B-E; Schutte-Vlok AL; Forest F; Van der Bank M (2008). "Systematic position of the anomalous genus Cadia and the phylogeny of the tribe Podalyrieae (Fabaceae)". Syst Bot. 33 (1): 133–147. doi:10.1600/036364408783887500. S2CID 53341490.
Cardoso D, Pennington RT, de Queiroz LP, Boatwright JS, Van Wyk BE, Wojciechowski MF, Lavin M (2013). "Reconstructing the deep-branching relationships of the papilionoid legumes". S Afr J Bot. 89: 58–75. doi:10.1016/j.sajb.2013.05.001.
"Cyclopia". International Plant Names Index (IPNI). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 14 October 2010.
Schutte AL (1997). "Systematics of the genus Cyclopia Vent". Edinburgh J Bot. 54 (2): 125–170. doi:10.1017/S0960428600004005.
Boulger, George Simonds (1891). "Ibbetson, Agnes" . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 28. London: Smith, Elder & Co. "Ibbetsonia, Curtis's Botanical Magazine (t. 1259, 1810)"
"Agricultural Research Council—Botanical information". Archived from the original on 22 February 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
Kamara, B. Irene; Brand, D. Jacobus; Brandt, E. Vincent; Joubert, Elizabeth (August 2004). "Phenolic Metabolites from Honeybush Tea (Cyclopia subternata)". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 52 (17): 5391–5395. doi:10.1021/jf040097z. PMID 15315375. INIST:16036960.
"Agri-Probe" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 February 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
"Cyclopia longifolia - Useful Temperate Plants". Retrieved 14 September 2021.
[1] Archived October 3, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
"Honeybush Tea—Organic Honeybush Tea is caffeine free". Retrieved 16 September 2012.
de Beer D, Jerz G, Joubert E, Wray V, Winterhalter P (2009). "Isolation of isomangiferin from honeybush (Cyclopia subternata) using high-speed counter-current chromatography and high-performance liquid chromatography". J Chromatogr A. 1216 (19): 4282–9. doi:10.1016/j.chroma.2009.02.056. hdl:10033/71233. PMID 19272608.
Kokotkiewicz A, Luczkiewicz M (2009). "Honeybush (Cyclopia sp.)—a rich source of compounds with high antimutagenic properties". Fitoterapia. 80 (1): 3–11. doi:10.1016/j.fitote.2008.11.001. PMID 19032980.
"ILDIS LegumeWeb entry for Cyclopia". International Legume Database & Information Service. Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
USDA; ARS; National Genetic Resources Program. "GRIN species records of Cyclopia". Germplasm Resources Information Network—(GRIN) [Online Database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
"Cyclopia falcata (Harv.) Kies — the Plant List".

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