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Crete 2013: Beach walk, dittany

Dittany, Origanum dictamnus, the 'king of Cretan herbs,' the healing herbal cousin of oregano that grows in the mountains and wild places of Crete, where some call it έρωντας (erontas) or 'love' because it's reputed to be an aphrodisiac.

The Cretans like to say Zeus gave it his island birthplace as a special thank you gift. Shepherds noticed how wounded goats sought it out, and made compresses of its leaves to heal their own hurts. Aphrodite flew to Mount Ida on Crete to pluck dittany to cure her son Aeneas when he was shot with an arrow that couldn't be removed during the Trojan War.

Wild dittany is protected by European law, but the plant is now cultivated in Embaros and the surrounding villages, and is used to make herbal tea and for use in natural beauty products.

Text © Dana Facaros

Image by Rev Stan