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Cultivation trials of some aromatic and medicinal plants in a semi-arid Mediterranean environment

Carrubba, A., La Torre, R., Matranga, A.
Acta horticulturae 2002 no.576
Anethum graveolens, Calendula officinalis, Foeniculum vulgare, Mediterranean climate, Salvia sclarea, Silybum marianum, beverages, crops, dill, farmers, fennel, flora, income, medicinal plants, raw materials, sage, sweets, Mediterranean region, Sicily
Aromatic and medicinal plants are widespread throughout the Mediterranean region, being dominant elements of the natural flora. Since the ancient time they have been utilised by local inhabitants for production of domestic preparations, beverages, confectionery and foods. Nowadays, their cultivation is increasing continuously due to the high demand for raw materials, especially products made with the help of "biological" techniques. In this work the results of cultivation trials performed in Sparacia (Cammarata - AG - Sicily) are summarised. In the experiments some aromatic and medicinal plants of major interest were tested under the representative semi-arid Mediterranean conditions in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Clary sage (Salvia sclarea L.), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare L.), dill (Anethum graveolens L.), marigold (Calendula officinalis L.) and milk thistle (Silybum marianum Gaertn.) were grown in experimental plots in order to evaluate their suitability to the field conditions. Based on the results the majority of the crops, grown in the trials grew well under semi-arid Mediterranean conditions and gave a satisfactory yield. The cultivation of these species provides an alternative for the farmers to increase their income, even in the areas unsuitable for conventional crops.