Plant of the day: California tea

Rupertia_physodesWhen I first saw California tea (Rupertia physodes), I wondered briefly if I was looking at a strange variation of poison oak. The glossy leaves are grouped together in threes, after all!

But when this little bush is in bloom it is clearly in the pea family. The flowers grow in small clusters of several white flowers with purple accents on the inner petals. The leaves are completely unlike those of poison oak: they have straight margins, pointy tips, and are slightly hairy. When crushed, they give off a sweet, fruity smell that reminds me vaguely of tomato.

The leaves can be brewed into a tea, hence the name. It is also called forest scurfpea and common rupertia. Rupertia_physodes-3 Rupertia_physodes-2

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Filed under Edible, Native, Plant of the day

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