Arethousa: The first Greek oregano variety registered in the Greek National (and European) Catalogue of Cultivated Plant Species.
Arethousa: The first Greek oregano variety registered in the Greek National (and European) Catalogue of Cultivated Plant Species
Undoubtedly, such an astonishing achievement attained within 2021, has been the result of a long-term fruitful collaboration (since 2008) among three (3) Professors of the Agricultural University of Athens (AUA), namely Prof. G. Economou - Antonaka (Laboratory of Agronomy), Prof. P. Tarantilis (Laboratory of General Chemistry) and Prof. K. Tsiboukas (Laboratory of Agribusiness Management), who have been acting as Coordinators of the Action, undertaken by the newly established “Institute of Excellence for the Study and Marketing of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs)”- AUA University Research & Excellence Center.
Indeed, the purpose of this cooperation and the role of “In. MAP” is to give solutions for cutting edge - top issues of the MAP Sector, such as the registration of Greek MAPs, their sustainable production, besides the identity and certification of MAPs products, facilitating their penetration in European and International markets.
In the framework of this cooperation dating from 2008 to 2010, a Research Application Program has been implemented, actually funded by the Municipality of Evdilos in the central part of the island of Ikaria, (North Aegean, Greece), on the subject of “Mapping, Evaluation and Utilization of Ikarian MAPS”. It is noteworthy that a native population of Greek oregano plants has been identified, by means of this research (Origanum vulgare ssp. Hirtum), showing a high yield of essential oil (8.5%) and high percentage content of its main constituent, carvacrol (89%).
On top of that, “Greek oregano from Ikaria” has been evaluated for its adaptability to different environments for six (6) years, as follows:
- in its area of origin, that is in Arethousa of Ikaria,
- in the field of the Lab. of Agronomy - AUA,
- in AUA Experimental Farm (Spata) and
- in Milos island (Cyclades), in plantations through vegetative reproduction from the indigenous population.
In addition, the particular qualitative characteristics of this oregano population have been confirmed during the third year of its cultivation in AUA, through the high yield of essential oil (12%), as well as the great concentration of carvacrol (95%), ranking amongst the highest values ever recorded in the international bibliography. At the same time, a business plan has been developed for the small-scale cultivation of oregano, adapted to the specific conditions of the island of Ikaria.
Furthermore, “Greek oregano from Ikaria” was registered in 2021, as the “1st Greek MAPs variety” in the National Catalogue (Government Gazette 933/ 10/05/2021), by the name "Arethousa", after assessment at the Institute of Variety Evaluation of Cultivated Species, under the scope of responsibilities associated with the Ministry of Rural Development and Food.
In conlusion, “Arethusa” oregano variety flourishing in Ikaria, is part of the intangible cultural heritage of Ikaria island, since it is a MAP among other important medicinal and aromatic species that appear in Ikaria. Last but not least, in numerous studies, such species are related to the dietary habits of the residents in Ikaria, its particular culture and the stated longevity of its population, falling within the special characteristics of the Ikarian society.