Dittany of Crete known in Greek as "Δίκταμο" or in Cretan dialect "Έρωντας" (love), is a tender perennial. It is a medicinal herb, a therapeutic and aromatic
plant that only grows wild on the mountainsides and gorges of the Greek
island of Crete. Said to symbolize love and to be an aphrodisiac, only the most ardent young lovers scrambled on mountainsides and the
deep gorges of Crete gathering bunches of the pink blooms to present as
love tokens. Other legends recommend Dittany of Crete as an instant cure for wounded soldiers, and that eating the herb would make embedded arrows fall out and wounds instantaneously heal.
Even in recent times the collection of Dittany of Crete was a very
dangerous occupation for the men who risked life and limb to climb
precarious rock faces where the plant grows wild in the mountains of
Crete. They were named Erondades (love seekers) and were considered
very passionate men to go to such dangerous lengths to collect the herb.
Popular since Medieval times for its medicinal value, Dittany has been used as a cure for digestive issues, snake bites, and soothing pains. Because of its anti convulsive properties, it was very popular for use during childbirth to ease pain.
Dittany of Crete has always been highly prized and is gathered while in
bloom in the Summer months and is exported for use in pharmaceuticals,
perfumery and to flavor drinks such as vermouth and absinthe. Combined with
Rue, Parsley and Pepper, Dittany can also be used to make a delicious sauce for fish.