“South Tyrol is extraordinarily diverse in terms of climate, geography, and, above all, geology,” they tell us. The landscape of the region is highly heterogeneous, with a mild climate, high relative sunshine and low precipitations, and an incredible geological diversity—dolomite, slate, porphyry, and granite comprise its raw materiality. “From the high alpine layer with plants such as edelweiss, rue, and musk yarrow, to the wine-growing area with citrus fruits from Meran; from the dry grass in the Vinschgau to the rainy terrains of the northern Alps in the Wipptal, the diversity is vast. There are special plants in every climatic and geological zone,” they continue. Of the over 2000 native plant species, the majority is alpine and found in high altitudes; many are rare and protected species. With great detoxifying, anti-inflammatory, and regenerative effects, plenty are used for culinary and medicinal purposes, most frequently for the digestive, respiratory, and cardiovascular systems, or functioning as universal remedies.
“Although medicinal plants are found throughout the entire Alpine region, what makes South Tyrol’s unique is its diversity,” they add. Regional species of healing plants include the Arnika, St. John’s wort, Icelandic Moss, chamomile, catnip, melilot, birch, centaury, goldenrod, comfrey, marigold, masterwort, gentian, stone pine, and many more. Regional herbs include thyme, savory, parsley, and celery, found further north, in harsher climates, as well as typical Mediterranean spices such as basil, oregano, and fennel. “What is unique about South Tyrol, is the use of herbs from the West Asian region, such as coriander seeds and blue melilot for our rye bread or buckwheat as our traditional grain, despite it being a pseudo-grain,” they add. We asked the experts to elaborate on eight traditional medicinal plants and herbs of the region—Arnica, edelweiss, scarlet beebalm, lemon scented catnip, masterwort, swiss stone pine, buckwheat, and blue melilot—and transport us, with the help of sublime illustrations by Karlotta Freier, to their South Tyrolean herb garden.
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