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June 7, 2006

Original cough medicine

protea repens pink 05 06.jpg
Protea repens comes with or without the pink spots. The white version is preferred by the commercial flower market.

When the first humans moved into the Cape, over 40000 years ago, they found cough medicine being made and stored in the base of every protea repens flower cup.
When this chalk-white and sometimes pink spotted flower bud opens in May each year it has about ½ a teaspoon of clear, amber coloured, sweet liquid in the bowl under the spreading petals.
The Dutch settlers, arriving after 1650, soon discovered the all-purpose Khoisan recipe. For 300 years, a bottle of protea bossiestroop (bush syrup) was an essential item in every home medicine chest.
Bossiestroop did not survive the arrival of the first manufacturing chemists in the 21st Century. And the spread of wheatfields and vineyards removed most of the original vast tracts of proteas.
Today a few hundred thousand repens plants can be found interspersed among the fynbos and renosterfeld on the upper slopes of Stormhoek and form part of a protected nature park.
We plan to make a few bottles of bossiestroop this year.

Posted by graham knox at June 7, 2006 7:27 PM

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