Toothed leaves, which look like saw blades and contain a bittersweet substance that is responsible for its properties.
The characteristic thorn of the plant was applied in the old days “like a lid” to the mouth of the pitchers, thus repelling intruding insects and bugs.
Thus, it became known as the pitcher thorn or otherwise stamnagathi.
Stamnagathi or “Cichorium Spinosum” is essentially a wild variety of radish.
It is native to Crete (mainly in the prefecture of Chania on the Omalos Plateau) but is also found in the rest of the Mediterranean basin in the mountains, plateaus, and steep beaches of Cyprus, Sicily and Malta. Harvesting it is a very tedious and often dangerous process.
It is a perennial plant, in essence a spherical thorny shrub between the thorns of which are the leaves of the plant, which appears in October with the first rains.
The only period that it has leaves is on spring and if it is not picked then it becomes woody and unsuitable for eating.
It is known as a food but also as an herb since antiquity while in Greece its cultivation efforts seem to begin in the 1920s.
Stamnagathi or "Cichorium spinosum" is essentially a wild variety of radish
Great Taste & Benefit
Stamnagathi as a plant is particularly rich in antioxidant polyphenols and Omega-3 fats. It stimulates the immune system and is also distinguished for its antiseptic, anti-rheumatic and hypoglycemic properties.
It contains vitamins C and E as well as trace elements such as iron, potassium, sodium, phosphorus and magnesium. It is considered diuretic, like all types of radishes, but also digestive.
In ancient times it seems that it was eaten to clean the gallbladder because of the chicory (substance) it contains and helps in it.
Few people know that the juice of its root soothes burns. An easy way to be sure that the grass you find in the various super-markets and flea markets is stamnagathi is simple. The original plant, and only this, is bitter when consumed raw.
It is a good accompaniment to raki and is eaten either raw in a salad with lemon oil or cooked. Suitable for all types of meat and legumes.
It is consumed and boiled as an accompaniment to seafood dishes while together with the kefalograviera they make an “unbeatable” duo.
A grass that musk’s Crete from an island that has to show a variety of quality products.
Reference: Melina Kritsotaki, Agronomist of Agricultural Economy, Msc.