Dittany of Crete (Origanum dictamnus)

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Dittany of Crete fact file

Dittany of Crete description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassMagnoliopsida
OrderLamiales
FamilyLamiaceae
GenusOriganum (1)

The dittany of Crete is widely used for food flavouring and medicinal purposes, in addition to it featuring as an ornamental plant in gardens (3). This small, lanate shrub is easily recognised by the distinctive soft, woolly covering of white-grey hair on its stems and round green leaves (4) (5), giving it a velvety texture (6). Tiny rose-pink flowers surrounded by brighter purple-pink bracts add an exuberant splash of colour to the plant in summer and autumn (7) (8).

Also known as
Cretan dittany.
Size
Height: up to 30 cm (2)
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Dittany of Crete biology

This deciduous (3), perennial plant blooms from June to August and sheds its leaves in winter (9). The flowers have both male and female reproductive organs and are pollinated by bees (9), which are attracted to the flowers by their bright colour and the plant’s aromatic fragrance (10).

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Dittany of Crete range

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Dittany of Crete habitat

Shady rocks in dry places in high mountains (3).

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Dittany of Crete status

Classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Plant Species 1997 (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Near Threatened

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Dittany of Crete threats

The dittany of Crete is frequently used for food flavouring, medicinal purposes and decoration (3). Although widely cultivated for these purposes, this plant is also taken from the wild. The exact extent of harvesting from the wild is unknown, but the species is thought to be threatened from over exploitation (11).

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Dittany of Crete conservation

There are currently no conservation measures targeting this species.

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Find out more

For more information on the dittany of Crete see:

Herbnet
http://www.herbnet.com/DITTANY%20OF%20CRETE.pdf

Purdue University: Centre for New Crops and Plant Products:
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/med-aro/factsheets/DITTANY_OF_CRETE.html

Tutin, T.G., Heywood, V.H., Burges, N.A. & Valentine, D.H. (1972) Flora Europaea: Diapensiaceae to Myoporaceae v. 3. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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Glossary

Bract
Modified leaf at the base of a flower.
Deciduous
A plant that sheds its leaves at the end of the growing season.
Lanate
Woolly covering of short dense hair.
Perennial
Plants that live for at least three seasons; after an initial period they produce flowers once a year.
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References

  1. Walter, K.S. and Gillett, H.J. (1998) 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants. IUCN (The World Conservation Union), Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
  2. Desert-Tropicals.com (April, 2006)
    http://www.desert-tropicals.com/Plants/Lamiaceae/Origanum_dictamnus.html
  3. Permaculture Information web (April, 2006)
    http://permaculture.info/cgi-bin/eden?plant=4455
  4. Crimson sage Nursery: Medicinal Herb Plants Nursery (April, 2006)
    http://www.crimson-sage.com/shop/index.php?shop=1&itemid=100053
  5. Tutin, T.G., Heywood, V.H., Burges, N.A. and Valentine, D.H. (1972) Flora Europaea: Diapensiaceae to Myoporaceae v. 3. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  6. Purdue University: Centre for New Crops and Plant Products (April, 2006)
    http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/med-aro/factsheets/DITTANY_OF_CRETE.html
  7. Mostly Natives Nursery (April, 2006)
    http://www.mostlynatives.com/notes/origanumdictamnus.htm
  8. Epic Plants (April, 2006)
    http://www.epicplants.com/tagView.asp?ProductIDTrunc=364-18
  9. Plants for a Future: Edible, medicinal and useful plants for a healthier world (April, 2006)
    http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Origanum+dictamnus
  10. Heywood, V.H. (1978) Flowering Plants of the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  11. Greece: Country Report to the FAO International Technical Conference on Plant Genetic Resources (April, 2006)
    http://72.14.203.104/search?q=cache:BKLJqxSmBpIJ:www.fao.org/ag/agp/agps/Pgrfa/pdf/greece.pdf+Origanum+dictamnus+threat&hl=en&gl=uk&ct=clnk&cd=5
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Image credit

Dittany of Crete flowers  
Dittany of Crete flowers

© Julia Jones

Julia Jones
Albion House
Odos Filellinon
Pano Elounda 72053
Crete
Greece
Tel: +30 (00) 28410 42177
julia@flowersofcrete.info
http://www.flowersofcrete.info

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