Croatian Flora SI

Croatian Flora

Rosemary 

Rosmarinus officinalis L., (Family of Lamiaceae)

English: rosemary 

German: Rosmarin

French: romarin

Italian: rosmarino

Rosemary is an aromatic, opulently branched evergreen bush which can grow up to 1.5 or 2 metres. It has got woody stems, densely grown with linear leathery, leaves which are silver-white underside. The flowers of bilabiate coronets are most often blue and rarely pink or white. They are up to 2 cm long and gathered in flower clusters at tops of offshoots. Rosemary blossoms from March to May and often again in autumn: in most favourable positions even during whole year!

It is presumed that the homeland of rosemary is the south of Spain wherefrom already in ancient times the Benedictine monks spread it to other locations. Today it is domiciled in entire Mediterranean area: in Croatia it makes part of vegetation communities of bush plants (shrub land - gariga) in the warmest part of our coastal area. It prefers dry slopes near the sea where it is exposed to moist southern winds (the scientific name of the genus originates from the Latin words ros, meaning  dew, mist, and marinus, belonging to the sea, from the sea).

Rosemary contains numerous healing substances so that people have been using it since prehistoric times. Through distillation of  leaves etheric oil  is obtained which contains the so called  rosemary  camphor – a curing substance  of multiple effect: it stimulates blood circulation and  increases blood pressure, regulates liver function, stabilises nerve system, is efficient against cramps, rheumatism and gout  and serves as analgesic and bactericide.  Rosemary oil has for centuries been added to baths that are known as exceptionally refreshing. Rosemary is also a well-known spice herb suitable for many vegetable and meat dishes, sauces, mushrooms and cheeses, but always in very small quantities because – although it smells nicely – it has bitter taste.

The symbolic of nice smelling, evergreen rosemary is profound: in Greek mythology Aphrodite, the goddess of love, dived out from the sea foam with the coronet of rosemary flowers and so the rosemary is considered a symbol of love and trust. In some parts of Europe and also in Croatia a branch of rosemary is usually used to „mark” guests of the wedding celebration. This beautiful plant is cultivated as decorative plant also in continental parts, but because its sensitivity to frost it is necessary to protect it during winter.  

Lavender

Lavandula angustifolia Mill., Family of Lamiaceae)

English: true lavender

German: echte Lavendel

French: lavande officinale

Italian: lavanda officinale

Curative or narrow-leaved lavender is a very aromatic and branchy evergreen bush reaching up to 1.5 m. Blue-greenish leaves are about 3 cm long and linear lanceted. Bilabial flowers are of unusual blue-violet colour by which this colour nuance also got its name (Lavender) and are about 1 cm long and surrounded by bracts. They are gathered in dense, cylindrical flower clusters up to 10 centimetres long at the top of long stems. Lavender blossoms from June to August.  It prefers sunny habitats, but not dry land. Like rosemary's its homeland is also Iberian Peninsula (most probably mountains of North Spain), where, surprisingly, it does not grow near the coast.  As a curative plant it was spread in old times throughout the whole Mediterranean area: in some areas it is fully domiciled, while in other it is cultivated. In Croatia it is mainly considered a cultivated plant although here the talk is most often about lavandin (Lavandula intermedia)   a hybrid of narrow-leafed and wide-leafed lavender which is common also in well-known Hvar plantations. In coastal area lavender can be found also as wild, in low-bushes (macchia) and on rocky pastures.  Since it successfully survives low temperatures, it is often cultivated in continental (even mountainous) areas as a decorative plant, but also a curative, honey- bearing and industrial plant.

From its flowers through distillation lavender oil can be produced, which has a wide application in pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry. Since antique times it has been added to massage oils, soaps and baths – wherefrom also a scientific name of the genus (lat. lavare, to wash oneself) originates. Aromatherapy recommends lavender oil as a mild and soothing agent.  Depending on cultivar, there are various strengths and pleasantness of lavender scent: some are highly scented because they contain more camphor and are used, e.g. in sachets, against moths, while others are milder and “sweeter” and more convenient for application on skin.

Lavender is to some degree also used in culinary: new leaves and offshoots - similar as those of rosemary, can in small quantities be added as spice to salads and meat dishes. In recent years also sweets with the addition of lavender are popular, first of all chocolates and sparkling drinks.

Curry plant (immortelle)

Helichrysum italicum (Roth) G. Don, family of Asteraceae

English: curry plant, immortelle

German: italienische Strohblume, italienische Immortelle, Currykraut

French: l'immortelle d'Italie

Italian: l'elicriso italiano,

 

Curry plant (immortelle) is aromatic and at its base a woody half-bush reaching the height of about half a metre. Young branches are covered with small hair and linear leaves are often silver-white).  Gold-yellow flower heads (Latin name of the genus originates from the Greek word helios, sun, and chryson, golden) are 3 mm in diameter, built of tiny tubular flowers and surrounded by bracts. More flower heads are clustered on tops of branches in umbel - an umbrella-like shield of flowers of a diameter up to 10 cm. Immortelle blossoms from April to July in sunny, open areas, mostly on rocky grassland and in shrubs. Immortelle is a genuine Mediterranean plant spread throughout whole South Europe, Northwest Africa and Asia Minor. A number of subspecies of immortelle are known which differ by their height and leaf size..

Although always appreciated as a curative plant, immortelle has only in recent years become exceptionally popular in all parts of the world and thus its natural habitats in Croatia are often exposed to merciless devastation.  From flower heads, through their distillation, a light colour oil of pleasant scent and wide application in pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry is obtained.  It contains an abundance of bitter   chemical compounds (phalides, flavonoids) which are very efficient in curing various skin diseases, injuries and anomalies: from effective compresses against burns and cuts to “miraculous” preparations which remove wrinkles. It is used in alternative ways of curing, from aromatherapy to homeopathy. In industrial production of scents immortelle oil is used as fundamental solution (fixative) to which later various other scents are added. Food producers add it to chewing gums, sweets, ice creams and baker's products. In small quantities immortelle leaves can be added to various meat or fish dishes of Mediterranean kitchen, soups, stews and fresh salads, while flower clusters are added to tea blends.  

Immortelle flower heads are also added to dried flower arrangements because they keep their golden yellow colour for long time. Also various other species of this great genus are popular as dried strawflowers from which many decorative cultivars of different colours have been obtained and some sorts are cultivated also as small hedges (the plant withstands pruning very well).

Sanja Kovačić

Technical Details

Issue Date: 21.03.2016
Designer: Klara Mikulić, designer from Zagreb
Printer: ZRINSKI d.d., Čakovec
Process: Multicolor Offset Printing with the addition of fragrance
Colours: 4 Colours
Size: 35.50 x 29.82 mm
Values: 2.80 / 3.10/ 4.60 HRK