Kvarner newsletter / no 19

The island of Lošinj
Learn more about some luxuriant Mediterranean plants!

Summer on the island of Lošinj is always characterised by a variety of dynamic and interesting events created by the island's tourism professionals. For visitors wishing to experience the rhythms and beauty of the Mediterranean's natural environment, we recommend visiting The Lošinj Garden of Fine Scents. The month of August is dedicated to fig, oleander and loquat, and September to jujube and grapes.

The island of Lošinj has always been known for its luxuriant Mediterranean vegetation. As a result of the efforts of the Mali Lošinj Tourism Office and the Garden of Fine Scents, a project entitled "Fragrances and tastes of Lošinj" was created, aimed at informing visitors about the plants that are specific for a particular time of the year. The project involves Lošinj's hotels, restaurants, campsites, beauty salons, and tourist agencies, which means that you will have the opportunity to meet the actual plants all over the island. Let us learn more about the fragrances and tastes of Lošinj in August and September.
The most famous plant in August is definitely fig, a highly respected tropical fruit. It can grow wild, but it is also cultivated. Fig, a symbol of life, peace, prosperity and fertility, has been known since ancient times. It also has beneficial effects on human health, because it provides calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin B6 and potassium, and is also rich in dietary fibres. In addition to being very tasty and healthy, either fresh or dried, it can also be used for making jams, cakes, or teas. Fig is also used in folk medicine for treating various illnesses. It is interesting to mentions that the fig tree is an excellent indicator of the cleanliness of the soil – in case of a pollution, fig reacts promptly and simply disappears.
While fig is a fruit that you can taste fresh or in various sweets offered in Lošinj's bars and restaurants, oleander, the second plant of August, is a decoration of this island that we recommend you should only enjoy watching. This highly decorative evergreen shrub, which can grow as high as four metres tall and is distinguished for its white or pink flowers, is actually – poisonous. Oleander was cultivated by the ancient Greeks and Romans. It is presumed that the name comes from the Greek word nerion, or water, which is explained by the fact that this plant requires plenty of water. But however beautiful oleander might be, we still recommend you only watch it, because even a small amount of the bitter sap can cause vomiting. Bark and leaves are the most poisonous. This plant can represent a great danger – there have been cases of poisoning by water in which an oleander branch was left, by food into which oleander leaves were added while cooking, and also by the smoke of burning oleander. Having said all that, we can conclude that oleander is really beautiful and poisonous, as this plant is often described, so once again, our recommendation is: enjoy it, but – from a distance!
Loquat, often called the Japanese medlar, is an evergreen plant that can grow up to 8 metres tall with a ball-shaped crown. The leaves are dark-green, long and serrated, and the flowers are white and fragrant. Yellow fruits are edible. It is interesting to mention that this plant was brought to Croatia at the end of the 17th century from Japan, and now it thrives in the regions where air temperature only rarely falls below 0 degrees Celsius – which makes the island of Lošinj its ideal habitat.

September in the Garden of Fine Scents and on the whole island of Lošinj is dedicated to grapes and jujube. While you probably know a lot about grapes, jujube is much less known. This is an interesting decorative tree with thorny branches, also known as the Chinese date. The fruits are green and long, reddish-brown when ripe. Jujube is rich in vitamin C; it can be used fresh or dried to make marmalade, juice or brandy. It has beneficial effects in relieving some digestive problems and for lowering high blood pressure.