Herbs and spices of Crete

There are 130 species of wild flowers and herbs unique to Crete

The flora of Crete is at its best in Spring, after the rain showers of the early season. Crete really looks green, and hundreds of flowers, plants and herbs start to blossom. There are 130 species of wild flowers and herbs unique to Crete.

Many Cretan herbs are Lamiaceae, or of the Mint family, a family of plants in about 180 genera and some 3,500 species.

These include many widely used culinary herbs, such as basil, mint, rosemary, sage, marjoram, oregano and thyme. Some are shrubs, but rarely trees or vines.

It was originally called Labiatae because the flowers typically have petals fused into an upper lip and a lower lip.

The leaves contain aromatic essential oils and emerge oppositely, each pair at right angles to the previous one (called decussate) or whorled.

The stems are square in cross section.

The flowers are bilaterally symmetrical with 5 united petals, 5 united sepals. They are usually bisexual and verticillastrate (a flower cluster that looks like a whorl of flowers but actually consists of two crowded clusters).

Below you will find a selection of the most common Cretan herbs, that are also available in many shops in Crete, so you can enjoy them at home as well.


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