One of the aspects of future literacy for the next generation would definitely be recognizing the importance of nature to the well-being of humans. Each step you take, outside of your house, plants dominate this planet – even in our cities. Wild plants, herbs, or even planting in parks and roadsides, reveal how important it is for people to see ‘green stuff’ everywhere for their physical and mental health. Have you ever been to a sunny sidewalk in August, without trees? Well, it was not so funny or enjoyable! Through the years, plants protect us from weather, feed us, and offer us their material for shelter and transportation. Numerous activities of people are thanks to plants – happening daily for free! One of the most iconic plants in Greek villages and towns, offering the best shade and a cool place for the hot August days is Platanus orientalis ‘Oriental plane tree’.
This plant species is a maple-like tree with a great history, like a ‘living fossil’. Riverside and mountainous villages in Greece, in areas with plenty of water, have these huge trees to tell the stories of many earlier generations. Usually you will find a ‘platanos’ or ‘platani’ in the center of village’s ‘platia’, the square at the center of the village, where people met all together. ‘Platia’ is the core of Greek tradition and folklore. The ability of the platanos to survive thousands of years made it the reason why the platia was usually located and built there because of a tree and not the opposite. The platanos has been recording all this village history for many generations in its roots. All the great events were supported by Platanos: panigyria, festivals, marriages, and so on. He has been offering shadow in exchange for the stories he has heard from people in his shade through the ages. He just needs a lot of water to grow big and strong. Often traditional cafes – kafeneia – are located in the platia, where you can enjoy your Greek coffee or local tsipouro with meze delicacies. This is the authentic ‘gourmet’ experience of Greece – a traditional aura in the shadowy hugs of a platanos tree.
* 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 is an Agriculturist-MSc Botany-Biology and PhD Candidate in Agricultural-Environmental Education and Science Communication.