The idea of planting Malotira – Μountain tea
The decline in the natural population of Malotira plants is increasing annually. Unfortunately, this is happening with a lot of Cretan herbs. We considered it our duty to protect this valuable herb and proceeded to its organic cultivation in areas that used to grow on its own. Respecting the biodiversity of the area and the need to protect this rare and so charismatic medicinal herb of mountainous Crete, we also took it for granted that the new Malotira plants should be created by local population’s seeds.
The implementation plan of seeds collection
The plan was ready. Observing the weather conditions on the island, we arranged the day that we would go to the White Mountains. The road is impassable, the landscape changes after a few minutes of driving. From the rich greenery, to bush lands and then to the foothills of Madara. We need to find healthy Malotira populations, which’s seeds is mature. The wandering has already started in the early morning hours, in the middle of August. The collection of the seeds from Malotira’s plants must be very careful. Both for not causing damage to the “mother” plants and not losing the seeds that hardly stand on the mature flowers of the Cretan herb.
Thoughts stop. The environment is unusual and different from other mountainous areas of the island. The wild beauty, the endless nature but also the majesty of the White Mountains is something unique. We do not want to collect a big quantity of seeds. We just want to cover our first plantings on the plateau of Omalos in the organic farm tofillo. Nature needs the seeds of Malotira, since from there the wild population will be renewed. It is almost midday when we decide to leave the area. The sun has risen high and the shadow of the high peaks no longer exists. During the return we can see and other herbs of the Cretan land. The curly sage, as they say in Crete (Salvia pomifera) and wild origano, aromatizes the area. Somewhere further we meet the local marjoram (Origanum microphyllum), while the sound from the flocks of sheep and goats accompanies us for most of the way back.
Back for drying and cleaning seeds of Malotira
The collected parts of the flower stems should be dried, and the moisture removed from the seeds quickly. After a few days of natural drying, it was time to remove the seeds. In a cloth bag, we will shake the flower stems. It will now be very easy to separate the seeds from the other parts of the plant. Sieving is the next step. Only the Malotira seed must be left. The good Malotira seeds must be separated. The round and not “shrinking” seed will be the one that will “open”. Throughout the process, the wisdom of nature comes to our mind again… Ants know well which seeds are fertile and choose them for transporting to their nest. Ants have been excellent collectors of Malotira seeds since ancient times!
The seeds will bring to life young Malotiras plants
We sow the seeds in fertile and light topsoil with a small mixture of local soil. The sowing bed will be ready soon. Water as a source of life is necessary every day. The first warm days of autumn will help the Malotira seeds to grow quickly. Their first leaves will come out soon. We are happy! Plants should not grow too much on the sowing bed. They must be transplanted in a few days in special multi-position discs. There it takes some days for developing their root system, so that the small Malotira plants will be ready for installation on the land of Omalos plateau.
The joy of creation
We meet nature’s miracle when we see the new medicinal plants of Malotira, the reproduction with local seeds has made plants totally different from one another. Just as humans are unique and special, so are our plants of Malotira. We notice the marked differences between neighboring plants and even the “aggression” from plant to plant.
We are very happy when we complete all this process. All the stages have passed through our hands, from the seed of Malotira to the new plant, the new life. So we “get to know personally” every single of our plants. This relationship gives us the knowledge and power to produce certified quality healthy products.
The journey in the world of Cretan herbs continues…
More about White Mountains (Lefka Ori)
More about Malotira (Sideritis Syriaca)
More about tofillo Malotira