Crete, a herb paradise

Crete is a plant paradise where 1,742 plant species have been recorded, of which 159 are endemic to Crete. Of these, the herbs, which cover the most dry and anechoic places as also the forests, and the canyons, are more interesting.

Since antiquity the Greeks have appreciated the analgesic and healing abilities of the herbs. The Greek therapist and father of Medicine, Hippocrates recognizing these abilities and their nutritional value has recorded the use of about 400 herbs and aromatic plants for the treatment of various diseases. As he believed that the health of the human body is related to the balance that must exist in the basic elements within its body and herbs were a means of restoring this balance.

Especially Crete has a strong botanological interest due to the rich biodiversity of the flora with a large number of endemic plants, i.e plants that are self-sown only on Crete, such as the malotira (Sideritis syriaca) and the diktamos (Origanum dictamnus). For this reason, several botanists believe that this island is a herb paradise. Research institutes from the rest of Greece and abroad (Switzerland, France, America, Italy) are interested in the herbs of Crete.

Some of the most famous Cretan herbs and aromatic plants are dictamnus, malotiras, sage, marjoram, oregano, thyme, chamomile, laurel, mint, fennel and basil. Also worth mentioning is the existence of the Museum of Cretan Herbs of the Institute of Theology and Ecology in Kolymbari, 24 km from the city of Chania.

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