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The Volcano Solfatara

The Flora Surrounding the Crater

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     The strawberry tree is one of the most typical features of Mediterranean vegetation. The fruit is a spherical berry whose skin, when ripe, is orange-red.   

     Apart from being eaten fresh it can be used in jam, jellies, syrups, candied fruits and a rare honey.  The leaves contain a glycoside, arbutine, which is an effective disinfectant of the urological tract.  The bark is used as a gray dye.  

     During the Risorgimento, the strawberry tree became a patriotic symbol as the plant had white flowers, red fruit and green leaves at the same time. (see the Italian flag) 
 

 

 

This was the path from the visitor center to the crater.

This was the path from the crater to the picnic area and gift shop. 

    Myrtle (Myrtus communis) is a typical element of Mediterranean vegetation, where it normally grows as a shrub, although it can reach a height of 3-5 meters.  Many myths are associated with this shrub which can be interpreted with opposite meanings; i.e. it is seen as the symbol of imminent death, but also a wish for love and happiness.  

     One legend claims that the Greeks gave the name "murtos" to the plant in honor of a young woman from Attica, called Mirsine, who was killed after having beaten a young man in a competition, Athena changed his body into this shrub which became the symbol of glory and victory.  The Romans made this myth part of their own culture, offering the wreath of myrtle to military and political heroes.   

     Pliny the Elder suggested that it be chewed with food to aid digestion, and in the early Middle Ages the leaves were used by monks for therapeutic purposes as they were rich in vegetable oils.  Even today myrtle is offered to brides along with orange flowers for luck.

 

 


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