Cyclopia subternata is one of about 24 species of the genus Cyclopia that comprise the honey-bushes. They form part of the Fabaceae or legume family of pod bearing plants like peas and beans. The honey-bush tea species are all endemic in fairly small areas of the Western or Eastern Cape. About five of the species, including C. subternata, are used locally to make the traditional honey-bush teas that are becoming more popular with some South Africans.
Cyclopia subternata is known as vleitee (marshland tea), bossiestee (shrublet tea) or valley tea. The plant grows in the Knysna area of the southern Cape to about 1 m in height. The leaves are three-foliolate, hairless, blue-green and lanceolate. The deep yellow flowers age to an orange or tan colour. It grows in full sun on fynbos slopes around sandstone seeps in a high rainfall area. Blooming happens in September (Manning, 2007; Moriarty, 1982).