Persephone, the mythical goddess of vegetation, endowed Greece with more than 5.600 species, some 750 of which are endemic, i.e. unique to the Greek land. When the dim skies of winter fill with the bright and frisky light of spring, myriads of multicoloured little heads pop up from the ground to marvel at the feast of nature and take part in it. From Zakynthos – “il fiore di Levante”= the flower of the East – to the botanical paradise of Lesvos, from the mushroom-clad area of Grevená to the rich in therapeutic herbs Crete, Greece bows to the grandeur of the Earth.
On ancient monuments or on tower towns, the wild flowers give colour to our age-long heritage; they decorate our fields and plateaus; they tame gorges and steep mountains; they immerse their roots in peaceful lakes or sea-beaten rocks.
It is at this time of the year that these tiny intoxicating heralds of the spring come out of the ground to take their place in the divine canvas of the Greek nature.
Cyclamens in all the tints of pink, hooked on the stone pinnacle of Meteora. Vast areas on the mountain chains of Tymfi and Taygetos covered with the wonderful purple crocus flowers. Delicate lilies on the peaks of mount Olympus; yellow radial daisies high on mount Grammos; wild tulips on the White Mountains. Beautiful weaver’s grooms and scented wild roses, as well as fragile anemones at the foot of mount Oiti. Endless carpets of arrogant velvet puppies generously lend their purple beauty to fields and meadows. Iris and viola flowers grow on lands of glades like colourful pieces in a mosaic under the sunshine. Countless violet-coloured bluebells sway in the spring breeze. Ranunculus flowers, heather flowers and sand lilies strut about their reflection on the waters of brooks and lakes. Gorgeous yellow and purple spotted orchids round off the palette of nature.
Religion, myths, medicine, rituals and art in Ancient Greece were inextricably linked to flowers. To prove their influence on the life and culture of the ancient Greeks, there are some archeological findings on Santorini: the Spring Fresco with the sacred lilies, and the famous Crocus Collector.
In fir forests or alpine areas, in glades or in the hinterland, by rivers or lakes, there are hundreds of species of wild mushrooms growing every year. Collecting them, especially in the spring time, is like going on a safari excursion; its trophy is the mushrooms themselves.
Out of the 2.200 species of mushrooms in Greece, only 150 are edible. With a fine quality and a tremendous taste, the Greek wild mushrooms are a highly nutritious and absolutely healthy food. Proteins, minerals, and trace elements are there to be combined with delicious dishes and gourmet versions of otherwise common tastes.
There are clubs that organise guided tours into forests for those who wish to be acquainted with the magic world of mushrooms. Western Macedonia and, in particular, the area of Grevená, are the places where you will come across the widest range of mushroom varieties. Some very rare and extinct of them have already become a tourists attraction, not just for domestic, but also for international visitors. Let's get a closer look here.
Loads of aromatic and therapeutic herbs grow in Greece, one of the richest countries in biodiversity. Either as food or as natural remedies, they have been used since the ancient times, mainly as pain-killers. Nowadays, a good 75% of chemical medicines are based on the miraculous properties of herbs.