The flora of the Sutjeska National Park is very diverse and is still being studied. There are 2600 registered plants in this area, many of which are rare, endemic, medicinal, etc.
A large number of medicinal plants are attracting more and more naturalists, and this kind of medicine lovers to these parts. In this text we will present only a few of them (their effects, name, origin and some interesting local stories from the people), which we believe will interest you enough to visit this unique national park in Europe.
Let's start with a plant that is very popular around the world today:
Daffodil or sunflower (lat. Narcissus poeticus)
Of the several different species, this one is the most widespread. It has a very nice scent, so it is used as a perfume essence. In fact, its essence is one of the most popular in the perfume industry. The name "Narcissus" comes from the Greek word narkao (to stun), because the flower has an alkaloid with a narcotic effect.
Narcissus was a character from Greek mythology. In Ovid's version of the myth, Metamorphoses, it is written that one girl fell in love with Narcissus, but he rejected her like everyone else’s. She prayed to the gods that Narcissus would suffer from unrequited love, just as he did to everyone else. The prayer was answered by the goddess Nemesis, who cursed him to fall in love with his own reflection. Eventually, Narcissus dies of a broken heart and went to Hades where he is forever tormented by his reflection in the Styx River.
Wild orchid (Lat. Anacamptis morio)
It is also known in this area as “salep”. The word origins from Arabic and it means ’fox "balls"’ because there are two bulbs. It has long been used as an aphrodisiac. Picking it is strictly forbidden in Europe, so Turkey and Iran are the largest exporters.
Mountain germander (lat.Teucrium montanum)
It is very rare and can be found at altitudes higher than 1000m (3300 ft.). There is a saying: " Iva the herb brings alive from the dead!” It was used to treat physical and mental illnesses. The first part of its Latin name, teucrium, refers to the Illyrian queen Teuta, who treated her arthritis with baths made with this herb.
Mountain germander contains natural chloroform, a stunning agent, hence its effect.
St John`s worth or Devil chaser (Lat.Hypericum perforatum)
Cantarion is a gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) modulator, so its tea is used as an anxiolytic and antidepressant. In higher concentrations, it is a free radical scavenger and has antiviral activity. Its two active substances, hypericin and hyperforin, improve mood, so it is used in the treatment of mild to moderate depression, showing a similar effect to Celexa (escitalorpram), a popular SSRI antidepressant.
*** These active components are weak inhibitors of MAOa and MAOb and therefore increase the concentrations of serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline. It is also a GABA modulator. The plant is toxic to animals ***
Valerian or All-heal (Lat.Valeriana officinalis)
It is common in Europe, parts of Asia and North America. It has been used for 5,000 years as a sedative and tranquilizer. The root is the medicinal part of the plant and it has a very unpleasant odor, but the flowers smell nice, so they are used for perfume essences.
*** It is a partial agonist of GABA, hence its sedative effect ****
Bearberry or hogberry (Arctostaphylus uva ursi)
It has long been used as a cure for genital-urinary infections. Arctostaphylus refers to the Arctic because it can be found here. It is practically indestructible. The Indians use it as part of the peace pipe and they claim it has hallucinogenic properties. The leaves are smoked to relieve headaches, but this use is illegal in the USA due to the narcotic effects of the plant, so use is strictly regulated.
Wooly Mullein (Lat. Verbascum phlomoides)
Well known remedy for lung diseases. Native Americans use the seed as a paralytic fish poison because of the high levels of saponins that have a stunning effect on the fish. Namely, all you need to do is collect the seeds and put them in a quiet part of the river and wait for the chemicals to take effect.
Wild oregano (lat. Origanum vulgare)
It has an effect on over 25 types of bacteria as well as fungi. Origanum vulgare is named from the Greek words - oros-hill and ganos-jewelry. It adorns the hills, thus becoming "mountain jewelry".
Mythology says that the first oregano was planted by Aphrodite, the goddess of love.
Yarrow (lat. Achillea millefolium)
It owes its scientific name to the ancient Greek mythological hero Achilles, who treated his army with this plant. Specifically, if there was a wound, the bleeding would stop if the powder of this plant was sprinkled on it.
Yellow and purple tiger lily (lat. Lillium tigrinum lancifollium)
It is widespread in the Far East, where it is grown as food. It is used in Japanese traditional medicine if one shows signs of aggression. Yes, the whole plant is edible, but pollen is poisonous and causes drowsiness and nausea.
Spring encian (gentiana verna))
It is he herald of spring, the first flower to appear after the snow. It is a cosmopolitan plant and it can be found in different areas of the world but it is very rare. It is quite eradicated because it is used as an aperitif and tonic. It is strictly forbidden to pick it in Europe. Women in ancient Rome dyed their clothes with it.
We are waiting for you in the spring to watch these unique plants together!
Thanks to our guide Dragan Boskovic for this article.