Cat Whisker Flowers
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Cat Whisker plants grow from four-sided, purple, woody stems with dark green, ovate leaves and showy blooms. The smooth, glossy leaves average 5-10 centimeters in length and grow in pairs, bearing deep veining across the surface, and have serrated or toothed edges. The flowers range from white to light purple and have a tubular shape with elongated, thin stamens that can reach almost three times the length of the flowers. These stamens are slightly curved, extending outward, and are delicate and wispy. The leaves of the Cat Whisker plant are fibrous with a grassy and mildly sweet flavor.
Cat Whisker flowers are available in the summer through fall.
Cat Whisker flowers, botanically classified as Orthosiphon aristatus, are the white blossoms that grow on an herbaceous, bushy, evergreen plant that can reach up to one meter in height and are members of the Lamiaceae or mint family. Also known as Java Tea, Kitty Whiskers, Kidney Tea plant, Misai Kucing in Indonesia, Yaa-nuat-maeo in Thailand, Kabling-gubat or Balbas-Pusa in the Philippines, and Mao Xu Cao in China, Cat Whisker flowers grow in tropical regions around the world and are found along forest edges, roadsides, and in fields. Cat Whisker flowers also earn their name from their long, white, whisker-like stamens. Favored in Asia for their medicinal value, Cat Whisker plants are known for their leaves and are commonly made into an herbal tea. They are also a popular home garden plant that is used to add color and texture into the landscape and attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.
Cat Whisker leaves contain potassium, essential oils, flavonoids, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties.
Cat Whisker plants are known for their edible leaves that can be used fresh or dried. Though edible raw, the dark green leaves are generally not consumed by themselves as they have a strong, grassy flavor and fibrous texture. The leaves are steeped in boiling water to make a mildly sweet flavored tea and are sometimes paired with garlic and turmeric as a medicinal drink. Cat Whisker leaves can also be dried and found in powder form, capsules, and extracts. When dried, the leaves will keep for 1-2 years when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.
In Asia, Cat Whisker leaves are used in traditional eastern medicine as a diuretic, believed to help cleanse the kidneys. The leaves are made into a tea, predominately known as Java tea, and are thought to help pass kidney stones, reduce symptoms of gout, and to remove toxins from the body. In addition to teas, Cat Whisker leaves can be made into a poultice to relieve mouth pain and mild swelling.
Cat Whisker plants are native to select tropical regions of Asia, Southeast Asia, and Australia, and have been growing wild since ancient times. Through seed trade and immigration, the plants have spread throughout much of Asia and can be found in Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, China, Myanmar, and Cambodia. They can also be found in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Java, Sumatra, and in tea form, the leaves are sold online in Europe and the United States.
Recipes that include Cat Whisker Flowers. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Herbs-Treat and Taste||Cat's Whiskers Tisane|