Erondas: The Plant of Lovers

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One million years ago the island of Crete was finally shaped into the form know it today. A great number of plants and animals remained isolated from the rest of the continent, for many years, which led Crete to evolve a great number of native species. The 8,336 km² island, the largest in Greece (around the size of Puerto Rico), has around 210 species of plants, 90 species of snails around 43 species of butterflies and other insects, found only in Crete and nowhere else in the world.

A highly endangered species is in the family of oregano and is known as dittany or dictamos (Oreganum dictamnus). Stories of Cretans relate that if a man wanted to show his love for a woman, he would climb up in August to Mt. Lefka Ori to collect the flowers of dittany, risking his life, and offering it to her as a proof of his love. This is why Cretans call it erondas, derived from the word eros or erotas, meaning love in Greek. This little herb grow on the rocky cliffs of the island’s high peaks in a highly sunny and dry environment. Therefore, even though it is an oregano plant, it does not look like one, due to the fuzzy thick hair all over the plant, thick leaves and silver color that guards against sunburn and dryness. Nevertheless, it smells and tastes like a very strong Greek oregano and it has the same uses. Tradition supports that a wounded animal knows how to find and eat dictamos because it knows that it treats all wounds and illnesses. This is partially true, due to its antiseptic and antifungal power. A tea from this plant is fairly bitter but it helps effectively treat stomach aches. Recently, a Greek company, after long research, patented capsules with Greek essential oil herbs dissolved in olive oil, among which dictamos is included; it is able to enhance body’s defenses and help the immune system.

The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.

Evropi-Sofia Dalampira Agriculturist-MSc Botany-Biology, is a PhD Candidate in Agricultural-Environmental Education and Science Communication.

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