Dittany of Crete

I am a devoted Harry Potter fan. I don't know what it is about the wizarding world, but it makes me happy just thinking about it.

In rereading the final book in the series, The Deathly Hallows, Harry and his friends get themselves in quite a few scrapes. It's interesting that Hermione, a young female wizard, is the one who performs most of the first aid. Often she's the only girl-woman around. When she's doing her herbal wizardry, she uses a lot of dittany, so in honor of Hermione and J. K. Rowling, here's some information about dittany of Crete:

Dittany of Crete (Organum dictammus L.)

Dittany is one of the most commonly reference historical herbs for healing. Closely related to marjoram and oregano, dittany has the distinctive oval oregano leaf shape, with hairy leaves and small pink to lavender flowers. Dittany of Crete is sometimes confused with false dittany (Dictamnus alba L.), which is also used in herbal healing.

Growing Dittany

Dittany is a perennial that will grow five to seven inches high and is hardy to zone 7. It likes a sunny location, well-drained soil, and mildly alkaline conditions. It also does well as a container plant.

Propagating Dittany

Propagate dittany by seed, division (spring or fall), or stem cuttings. Be sure to provide light shade until plants get established.

Dittany Lore

Dittany was reputedly sought out by wounded animals in an effort to heal themselves, and has a long healing and magical history. It was in common use during the time of Hippocrates and was one of the herbs he recommended as a treatment for stomach or digestive problems, arthritis, and rheumatism. The name is believed to come from a variation on the word Dicte, the name of a mountain in Crete on whose slopes the plant was known to grow.

Young men were often given the task of harvesting dittany from steep and dangerous hillsides as a proof of devotion.

Medicinal Dittany

A dittany compress was thought to help expel foreign substances from the body, and dittany was also prized as an aphrodisiac. It was believed to induce abortions in early pregnancy, to ease the pain of childbirth, and to reduce the severity of menstrual cramps. Dittany was also commonly used to treat snakebite.

Magical Dittany

Before its references in the Harry Potter books, dittany was a common ingredient in magical rites and potions. It was incorporated into rituals for summoning spirits that would appear in the smoke of dittany and other burning herbs.

One of it's modern magical or new age applications is in helping to induce astral projection, the practice of willing oneself out of the body and into other places or planes of existence. Dittany is also an important ingredient in love potions.

In the garden landscape, dittany is frequently used as a border or edging plant, It is hardy, and brings a great deal of history and interest to the garden. It is also a favorite of butterflies and bees.

This wonderful photo is courtesy of at
Thanks for the heads up Jenny, I originally posted the wrong photo.

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