DITTANY OF CRETE
Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae), Origanum dictamnus L.
Source: Simon, J.E., A.F. Chadwick and L.E. Craker. 1984.
Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography. 1971-1980. The Scientific Literature
on Selected Herbs, and Aromatic and Medicinal Plants of the Temperate
Zone. Archon Books, 770 pp., Hamden, CT.
Dittany of Crete, Origanum dictamnus L. (formerly Amaracus
dictamnus Benth. or Amaracus tomentosus Moench.),
is one of the best-known healing herbs of folklore. Native
to the mountains of Crete and also called dittany or dictamnus,
this perennial plant can reach a height of 0.3 meters. Procumbent
white, woolly stems, usually trailing, develop pink or purplish
flowers in the summer. The small gray leaves have a velvety texture.
Of minor importance today, dittany of Crete is primarily used
as a potted plant or as an ornamental plant in garden borders.
The flowers have been used in herbal teas, but the plant has no
culinary value. As a medicinal plant, the herb has been utilized
to heal wounds, soothe pain, cure snake bites, and ease childbirth.
In addition, it has been used as a renedy against gastric or stomach
ailments and rheumatism.
Dictamnus albus L. (Dictamnus fraxinella Pers.),
known as dittany and fraxinella, is often confused with dittany
of Crete. This perennial plant is of the Rutaceae family and reaches
a height of approximately one meter. Grown as a garden plant with
showy pink, purple or white flowers, its dried leaves can be used
in teas. The plant has been used medicinally as a diuretic, emmenagogue,
and expectorant. However, the seed pods can cause contact dermatitis.
The plant is known as the gas plant because it will often give
a burst of flame when a lighted match is held beneath the flower
Cunila origanoides Britt. is called dittany, Maryland dittany,
and stone-mint. This low-growing perennial with a minty
flavor is native to the eastern United States. The plant, which
has been classified as Satureja origanoides L. and Cunila
mariana L., is primarily used as an ornamental border in gardens,
although the leaves may be used in herbal teas.
Dittany of Crete is generally recognized as safe for human consumption
as a natural flavoring (21 CFR section 172.510 ).
[Note: References listed above in parentheses can be found in full in the original reference].
Last modified 6-Dec-1997