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All of the following information describes one plant:

This plant, native to Mediterranean Europe, is an ancient symbol of wisdom and immortality.

A perennial shrub about 2 feet high, it is a member of the mint family and has over 500 varieties. Its flowers are fragrant, usually purple or blue, sometimes white, red or pink. They are rich in nectar, and it's honey is in great demand in Europe because of its spicy flavor. Some varieties, have broad leaves; others have foliage variegated with red, yellow, or white.

Valued by the Chinese in the seventeenth century, they would trade three chests of China tea for just one chest filled with its leaves from Dutch merchants.

For most of its long history it has been a healing herb (supposedly curing everything from snake bites, eye problems, infection, epilepsy, intoxication, memory loss, worms and intestinal problems) or prescribed as an aphrodisiac.

As far back as ancient Greek and Roman times, healers advocated it for a variety of ailments. Charlemagne ordered that it be grown in his royal gardens. Arab physicians in the 10th century went so far as to claim that it extended life to the point of immortality.

It was an old custom to rub leaves on the teeth to clean them and benefit the gums. American Indians used it for medicinal purposes. The oil is valued in perfumery and toilet preparations, especially those for men. Placed among linen, it discourages insects. Also helps repel cabbage butterflies and improves the flavor of cabbage.

The dried leaves are employed by food manufacturers in seasoning meats, baked goods, and beverages. They are also used to flavor vermouth and various bitters. For years it has been used in the preserving of foods. Now it is known that it contains powerful anti-oxidants which slow spoilage. It is also antibacterial in nature, it is effective in treating sore throats and is even effective as an antiperspirant.

Can You Name This Plant?



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