Croatia’s wild nature is all around us. It’s why the breeze is scented with fennel, rosemary, roses and pine. There are lots of wild vegetables and fruits that you can pluck from straight from nature like asparagus or mushrooms, but there are also lots of wild flowers and plants in Croatia that you can pick and eat as well.
Croatians use many of these wild plants for soothing teas, sleep aids and other natural remedies. With summer on our doorstep, we’ve picked out 5 edible wild plants that you might find on a hike or even beside the road in Croatia. If you do pick any wild plants, make 100% sure you know what it is and that it is safe before picking.
#1 Crni sljez (Common mallow)
The common mallow (Malva sylvestris) is a plant with a branched, hairy stem, dark-green leaves and beautiful purple flowers. It can grow more than 1 meter in height and blooms from May to September. The common mallow grows almost everywhere up to 1.200 meters above the sea level: in the fields, gardens, along the roads and around houses.
Almost all parts of this plant are edible including its leaves, flowers, immature fruits, and roots. Its young leaves are rich with iron, calcium, vitamin C, and carotene. They can be picked between February and July.
You can prepare them like spinach. Immature fruits can be eaten raw or added to stew and marinades. Flowers can be picked and added to salads during the whole summer. Since they contain polysaccharides and minerals, crni sljez have a calming effect when used in bath or as a compress for ulcers and hemorrhoids. Leaves and flowers can be used for making tea. Instead of steeping in hot water, leave them for several hours in cold water to make the tea.
#2 Tratinčica (Daisy)
Daisy (Bellis perennis) is a small wild plant which has gentle white flowers with a lot of petals. Many know how to recognize a daisy, but did you know that it is edible? Daisies grow mostly in meadows, fields and along the roads up to 1.800 meters above the sea level.
Tratinčica leaves and flowers are usually picked during springtime, but you can also pick them in summer. Pick only the young gentle leaves, then eat them cooked or raw. They are rich with vitamin C and carotene.
Hard green buds can be marinated and used the same way as capers. Flowers are usually used in salads or as a decoration to other dishes. Both leaves and flowers can also be used for preparing tea.
#3 Stolisnik (Yarrow)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a plant with a bunch of small white flowers that grow together along with tiny dark green leaves. Stolisnik is approximately 80 centimeters tall and grows in groups on dry pastures, fields, meadows, and as a weed in gardens. It can grow at up to 1.700 meters above sea level. While this plant likes the sun, it can tolerate both drought and frost.
Yarrow’s leaves can be picked between the end of February and July, as well as during autumn to use in stews, salads, and soups. However, yarrow blooms during the summer, so it is best picked at its prime.
Dry leaves, flowers and tops of the plant to be used for tea. Yarrow’s tea is very healthy. It cleans blood, boosts appetite, improves function of liver, kidneys, and gall bladder, and it also releases water from the body. Flowers can be used for making essential oils.
#4 Majčina dušica (Thyme)
Majčina dušica (Thymus serpylum) grows as small dense bushes up to 20 centimeters tall. Its flowers are very tiny and have an aromatic smell. It blooms from May to September, during which it can be picked.
Thyme likes to grow in large groups in sunny and dry places. It can be found at the edges of the forest, beside roads, on dry slopes, meadows and pastures, and across mountain ranges up to 1.700 meters above sea level.
During flowering, cut the leaves and flowers of the majčina dušica, then dry them in a dry and airy place. A fresh plant is rich with vitamin C and a dried plant contains essential oils.
Dry or fresh thyme is used as a spice for salads, vegetables, dips, soups, etc. Dry plants can be used for preparing tea. It has an antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory effect. Thyme is good for drinking as a tea when coughing, experiencing gingivitis, or to strengthen nerves and the stomach.
#5 Divlji pelin (Mugwort)
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is a plant with a bunch of leaves and seeds which grow up to 180 centimeters high. One plant alone can release up to 700.000 seeds, which start to grow in the same year during autumn. It grows in sunny and dry places – near the shores of rivers, on neglected lands, beside roads, and on fertile soil.
Divlji pelin leaves and flower tops are collected in the flowering stage during the summer. After drying, they can be used as a spice in various types of dishes. They are good for appetite stimulation, fat digestion, calming cramps, and strengthening nerves. Mugwort must be used in small amounts because it contains toxic thujone which can be harmful if using large amounts.
NOTE: If on the look out for these plants while spending time in nature, make sure that you found the right plant before picking and eating. This article is for informative purposes only. Only pick and use these plants if you are 100% sure that you’ve found the correct plant, otherwise err on the side of caution and leave the plant alone. You MUST be sure that you are consuming an edible plant, otherwise it can harm your health.