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Fragrant October – Myrtle, Strawberry Tree, Pomegranate and Dandelion

Fragrant October – Myrtle, Strawberry Tree, Pomegranate and Dandelion

Island Lošinj

MYRTLE (lat. Myrtus communis L.)

 

An aromatic plant of the genus Myrtus. It symbolizes love. In Greek mythology it was held sacred to Aphrodite. In Roman mythology it was held sacred to Venus.

 

MYRTLE IN MY AND YOUR GARDEN

 

It is an evergreen shrub or a small tree that can grow up to 5 meters tall. It has white flowers and tiny dark blue berries. It reproduces by pollination and is widespread in warm and sunny coastal areas. It is sensitive to cold.

 

NUTRITIVE VALUE

 

Its berries have a pleasant, sweetish, aromatic and rosiny taste. In addition to essential oils, it is rich in citric and malic acid, sugar, resin and tannin. It is used as a spice.

 

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Unknown.

 

INTERESTING DETAILS

 

Myrtle originates from the East, and was brought to the Mediterranean in prehistoric times. The people of antiquity held it sacred and worshiped it (like laurel). During hard times and poverty its berries were dried and grinded into flour.

 

IMPORTANT NOTES

 

Tannin is an active compound found in numerous medicinal herbs that gives them tanning properties. Tannins are important in medicine and cosmetic industry. The fermentation of myrtle berries is used in the production of an alcoholic beverage called eau d`Agnes. Myrtle berries can be preserved in salt.

 

THE STRAWBERRY TREE (lat. Arbutus unedo L.)

 

An evergreen shrub or small tree – a plant of the Ericaceae family. Its fruit is called arbutus-berry.

 

THE STRAWBERRY TREE IN MY AND YOUR GARDEN

 

The strawberry tree grows as a small bush or tree, but can be up to 10 meters tall. Its leaves remind of laurel leaves. The flowers are green and whitish and bell-shaped. Berries are orange-red and round. Their surface is rough and humpy.

 

NUTRITIVE VALUE

 

Arbutus-berries are sweetish - they contain about 16 % sugar (mostly fructose), organic acid (mostly malic), pectin, and well-ripened berries contain alcohol (0,5 %).

 

CONTRAINDICATIONS: A large intake of ripe berries causes problems with indigestion and the overall effect is similar to the effect of alcohol (ripe berries contain a lot of alcohol).

 

INTERESTING DETAILS

 

Its Latin name is Arbutus unedo L., and comes Pliny the Elder's known saying "unum tantum edo", which translates to "I will only eat one".

 

IMPORTANT NOTES

 

Eating normal amount of fresh arbutus-berries is harmless. Arbutin is a compound that has antibacterial properties and is used as urinary antiseptic. Arbutus-berries may be used in brandy and liqueur production. Berries can be dried, grounded and mixed with flour for making cakes and pastries.

 

DANDELION (lat. Taraxacum officinale Weber)

 

DANDELION IN MY AND YOUR GARDEN

 

The dandelion is a perennial known to all, even to the smallest children. In springtime it makes all the parks, meadows, fields and gardens turn yellow. The leaves are long, serrated and arranged in a ground rosette. The stem is hollow, up to 20 cm tall, and at the top it carries a yellow flower head.

 

INTERESTING DETAILS

 

Dandelion falls into the group of the most prevailing weeds and meadow plants. The overall plant has medicinal propteries. The Italians began to use it as a vegatable in the 17th century. It abounds in different minerals and vitamin C. TIP Best of all is to dig out the roots in early spring or autumn. The leaves are picked before flowering begins, and the flower stems and flower heads during flowering. It has curative properties and helps in treating many illnesses: it helps metabolism, stimulates perspiration and is espacially good for the liver and kidneys. It cures rash and other skin diseases, and is also good for treating rheumatism and gout.

 

POMEGRANATE (lat. Punica granatum L.)

 

POMEGRANATE IN MY AND YOUR GARDEN

 

A shrub or small tree growing 2-4 m tall. Branches are long and covered in thorns, with at first reddish and then gray and thin bark that peels in threads. Its flowers are very beautiful, bright red (rarely white). The ripe fruit, pomegranate, can be 10 cm in diameter, yellow, brown or reddish and has a "crown". Its skin is thick and inside arils are located in “compartments” divided by white membranes. Arils are transparent, irregularly shaped, red and very juicy.

 

NUTRITIVE VALUE

 

Rich in vitamin C. It is a good source of vitamins B1, B2, B6, and biologically valuable fibers, niacin, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus and traces of sodium.

 

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Unknown.

 

INTERESTING DETAILS

 

It originated in Persia, and has been cultivated on the Mediterranean. It can be grown in dry areas along the Adriatic coast exposed to the sun. Raw or cooked concentrate is used in the Middle East as meat gravy, and during the Renaissance it was widely used in Italian cuisine.

 

IMPORTANT NOTES

 

Its seeds may be used for making juice or jelly. Juice of pomegranate is called grenadine. Pomegranate has rose-like flowers, but it is different from rose hip, the fruit of the rose plant.