Skip to main content

Table 1 Folk names and uses of plants and fungi quoted in the current study, compared with those recorded one century ago in the same area

From: One century later: the folk botanical knowledge of the last remaining Albanians of the upper Reka Valley, Mount Korab, Western Macedonia

Scientific taxon and family Local folk name(s) Ecological status or provenience Part(s) used Local use(s) Folk name(s) and use(s) as recorded one century ago in the same area [[22]]
Abies alba Mill. and Picea abies (L.) H. Karst. (Pinaceae) Bren W Resin (smol*) MEDICINAL: topically applied to wounds, sometimes together with tobacco (as haemostatic) or on warts Breh MEDICINAL: resin (smol*) as an ingredient of a home-made poultice (mehlem) - made also by adding wax, fat, and powdered pine wood – for treating wounds
Acer pseudoplatanus L. (Sapindaceae) Klenje* W Wood HANDICRAFTS: diverse objects, among them, snow shoes Pani
  Kleni*     
    Bark VETERINARY: decoction, in external washes for treating wounds in animals  
Achillea millefolium L. (Asteraceae) Lule e bardhë W Dried flowering aerial parts MEDICINAL: tea, considered healthy for stomach-ache and liver problems; traded in the past  
  Lule miu     
Allium cepa L. (Amaryllidaceae) Qepa C Bulbs FOOD: many culinary uses, including home-made savory pies called ndri, filled with buttermilk (dhallët) and diverse vegetables; MEDICINAL: compresses made with crushed onions and salt for treating bruises RITUAL: burned on the fire Qep FOOD: filling for savory pies MEDICINAL: externally applied with salt on wounds
Allium porrum L. (Amaryllidaceae) Prash* C Fresh aerial parts FOOD: filling for home-made savory pies (ndri) Prasa
    Juice MEDICINAL: instilled in the ear for treating ear-ache  
Allium sativum L. (Amaryllidaceae) Hudra C Bulbs FOOD: seasoning Hudr
     RITUAL: burned on the fire; the resulting strong odour was considered a repellent for werewolves; tied to cow horns as a protective amulet against evil-eye  
Alnus glutinosa (L.) Gaertn. (Betulaceae) Verri W Bark DYEING: the bark was boiled in the past; the resulting red decoction was used for dyeing in black Verri
Amaranthus spp. (Amaranthaceae) Llabot e egër W Leaves FODDER  
Arctium lappa L. (Asteraceae) Kakuda W Leaves FODDER  
Atriplex hortensis L. (Amaranthaceae) Laboda* C Leaves FOOD: most preferred filling for pies (ndri)  
  Labat*     
Betula pendula Roth (Betulaceae) Mustekna W Bark MEDICINAL: burned; the vapours are exposed to the skin for treating skin inflammations HANDICRAFTS: brooms Mushtekn
Boletus spp. (Boletaceae) Këpurdha W Fresh fruiting body FOOD: stored dried and sold to middle men; traditionally it was not consumed, nowadays is sometimes used in omelettes with eggs and cheese, or as a filling for savory pies  
  (Varganj*)     
Brassica oleracea L. (Brassicaceae) Lakna C Leaves FOOD: in diverse preparations Lakna FOOD: filling for savory pies; lactofermented, in sarma (sauerkraut leaves filled with rice and meat) or minced in salads
Calamintha officinalis Mill. (Lamiaceae)   W Fresh leaves MEDICINAL: externally applied to treat toothache  
Cantharellus cibarius Fr. (Cantharellaceae) Kepurdha W Fruiting body FOOD: consumed fried with eggs and clarified butter  
  (Lisiçarka*)     
Capsicum annuum L. (Solanaceae) Spec (sweet varieties) C Dried fruits FOOD: as a vegetable, fried; mixed with ricotta (gjizë) and consumed after a few weeks; ground, as one of the ingredients of the home-made seasoning mixture called piprik e shtupun, prepared by mixing ground red peppers, chilli, pumpkin seeds, corn flour, mint, and salt (traditionally consumed on boiled potatoes or warm bread) Spec
  Piprik* C Dried fruits FOOD: ingredient of the spice mix piprik e shtupun (see above)  
  (hot varieties)     
     MEDICINAL: ground and mixed with clarified butter or pork fat in a poultice, which is externally applied against rheumatisms  
     RITUAL: burned on the fire; the resulting strong odour is considered a repellent for werewolves (lugata)  
Carlina acanthifolia All. (Asteraceae) Thera W Fresh flower receptacles FOOD: consumed raw as snacks  
  Kaçani*     
Carpinus betulus L. (Betulaceae) Dru kaprivë W Wood HANDICRAFTS: diverse agricultural tools, including sickles  
Carpinus orientalis Mill. (Betulaceae) Gaber* W Bark VETERINARY: decoction, in external washed on cuts  
Cetraria islandica (L.) Ach. (Parmeliaceae) Mishk W Thallus MEDICINAL: gathered and traded in the past  
Chenopodium bonus-henricus L. (Amarathaceae) Çuen* W Roots FOOD: used in the past for making home-made halva* (Ottoman sweet prepared by gently stirring the decotion obtained by boiling these roots in water, with wheat and/or corn flour for one hour, and generally adding walnuts or raisins at the end, and letting it cool/solidify); the roots were also traded in the past Çuen FOOD: home-made production of the sweet halva, made by cooking together roots, sugar syrup and powdered nuts - roots of çuen were erroneously identified by Doda as those of Saponaria spp. Upper Reka men were famous halva-sellers
Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Mansf. (Cucurbitaceae) Bostan B Fruit pulp FOOD/MEDICINAL: consumed raw, considered a means for cleansing the intestines  
  Lubenicë*     
Clematis vitalba L. (Ranunculaceae) Kurpna W Branches HANDICRAFTS: traditionally weaved in baskets used for bee-keeping  
  Pofit*     
    Fresh flowers HONEY PLANT  
    (Dried?) flowers FOOD: used in the past as bread yeast  
Cornus mas L. (Cornaceae) Thona W Fresh fruits FOOD: consumed raw; FOOD/MEDICINAL: syrups and distillate (raki thonet) considered healthy, esp. for treating fever Thon
Corylus avellana L. (Betulaceae) Leithiza W Kernels FOOD: consumed raw as snacks Leithi
    Branches OTHERS: as structural supports for bean plants in the vegetable garden  
Crataegus monogyna Jacq. var. sericea Dzekov (Rosaceae) Murrisi W Dried flowers MEDICINAL: tea, as an anti-hypertensive Muris qeni RITUAL: child affected by measles was placed under a hawthorn plant and water was thrown on him/her
    Fruits FOOD: consumed as snack and in syrups and jams  
Cucumis sativus L. (Cucurbitaceae) Kastraveca* C Fruits FOOD: consumed raw, or, more often, lactofermented (turshi*)  
Cucurbita maxima Duchesne (Cucurbitaceae) Kungulla C Fruits FOOD: filling for pies Kungul FOOD: filling for pies (ndri)
    Dried seeds FOOD: consumed as snacks; ground and used as an ingredient of the home-made seasoning mixture piprik e shtupun (see Capsicum annuum)  
Euphorbia sp. (Euphorbiaceae) Lule gjarpi W Aerial parts OTHERS: crushed and used for fishing trout (pastërmka) in the river (as a fish poison) Lishanj
Fagus sylvatica L. (Fagaceae) Ahu W Fresh young leaves and kernels FOOD: consumed as a snack in the past Ah
    Branches and wood FUEL  
     HANDICRAFTS: fences, diverse agricultural tools, “skeleton” of horse saddles and barns  
Fomes fomentarius (L.) J. J. Kickx (Polyporaceae) Eshka W Dried fruiting body OTHERS: burned; the resulting smoke is used to keep away bees while gathering honey  
Fragaria vesca L. (Rosaceae) Drezdha W Fruits FOOD: consumed raw Drethsa
Fraxinus excelsior L. (Oleaceae) Frashëri W Wood HANDICRAFTS: for building flutes (kaval*)  
Gentiana lutea L. (Gentianaceae) Shtarë e egëra W Roots MEDICINAL: largely gathered and traded in the past; use unknown Shatra e egër
Helleborus spp. (Ranunculaceae) Kukurek* W Roots MEDICINAL: inserted in the horse’s breast for treating muscular blocks (horses not able to be ridden anymore) Kukurek VETERINARY: inserted into the nose to treat nasal congestion in horses
Helichrysum plicatum DC. (Asteraceae) Lule për molca W Dried flowering tops OTHERS: placed in the closets as a moth repellent  
Hordeum vulgare L. (Poaceae) Elb C Fruits FOOD: consumed in the past in gruels with corn; FODDER for sheep Elb
Hyosciamus niger L. (Solanaceae)   W Dried flowers MEDICINAL: burned and the smoke exposed to the mouth to treat toothache (in the past)  
Hypericum perforatum L. (Hypericaceae) Katrion* W Dried flowering tops MEDICINAL: tea, for treating kidney stones, colds, stomach-ache, rheumatisms (used every day for at least a few months) or simply drunk as a “healthy” beverage; topically applied for treating wounds  
  Kantarion*     
  Çaj bistrë     
  Lule e verdhë     
    Fresh flowering tops MEDICINAL: Macerate in oil (obtained by exposing it in the sun for several weeks) or prepare as a tea externally applied for treating skin burns, cuts, or other skin inflammations  
Juglans regia L. (Juglandaceae) Arra SD Kernels FOOD: used for cakes; a specific pie (ndri) was prepared with walnuts and lamb meat, and consumed on feast days Arr
    Unripe fruits FOOD/MEDICINAL: dipped in honey (and eventually lemon juice), the resulting preserve is considered healthy against tuberculosis and bronchitis  
Juniperus communis L. (Cupressaceae) Dëllinia W Galbules FOOD: seasoning MEDICINAL: tea, for treating cough, rheumatisms and “good for the blood”; largely gathered and sold, especially in the past Dulinj
    Dried bark OTHERS: smoked as a tobacco substitute  
Lactuca sativa L. (Asteracaeae) Marolla* C Fresh leaves FOOD: salads  
Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. (Solanaceae) Patlixhan* C Fresh fruits FOOD Patlingjan kuq
Malus domestica Borkh. (Rosaceae) Molla SD Fruits FOOD/MEDICINAL: traditionally consumed raw, or roasted, or in pies or jams; the fruits of the most acidic landraces were used for producing home-made vinegar (adding water and letting ferment for 40 days) - this vinegar is considered healthy for treating hypertension Moll
    Fruits→Raki MEDICINAL: drunk as a stimulant (anti-lethargic)  
Matricaria recutita L. (Asteraceae) Kamomila W Dried flowering aerial parts MEDICINAL: tea for treating toothache, stomach-ache and belly pains (esp. in babies) Cfarlik
Medicago sativa L. (Fabaceae) Jonxhe C Aerial parts FODDER  
Melissa officinalis L. (Lamiaceae) Milc W Fresh flowers HONEY PLANT: considered the best honey plant  
Mentha longifolia (L.) Huds. (Lamiaceae) Nagjas i egër W Dried flowering tops MEDICINAL: tea, as a stimulant (considered poisonous if drunk in large amounts)  
Mentha spicata L. (Lamiaceae) Nane W and C Dried leaves FOOD: ground, used as an ingredient of the seasoning mix piprik e shtupun (see Capsicum annuum)  
  Nagjas     
     MEDICINAL: tea, for treating stomach and intestinal pains, esp. in children, or as an anti-diarrhoeal  
Nicotiana tabacum L. (Solanaceae) Duhan* B Dried crashed leaves VETERINARY: externally applied on wounds or skin problems in sheep MEDICINAL: external applications for treating wounds (mixed with honey)
  Tutun*     
Orchis spp. (Orchidaceae) Salep* (two quoted “folk specifics”: one showing pink flowers and the other one with yellow flowers) W Dried tubers MEDICINAL: ground, and then mixed with milk and dried again; the resulting powder is used in teas, as a “healthy” beverage (rarely macerated in plum distillate and drunk as a medicine); in the past largely gathered and sold Broçka Salep FOOD: powdered orchid tubers were stirred with warm water and sugar; many young men from the upper Reka left their homes to work as salep, bosa and halva sellers in Skopje, Istanbul, Romania, and Bulgaria
Origanum vulgare L. (Lamiaceae) Çaj* W Dried flowering aerial parts MEDICINAL: tea for treating sore throat, cough, heart problems, intestinal discomforts, or as a recreational beverage  
  Çaj i malit     
  Çaj i livadhi*     
Petasites hybridus (L.) Gaertn. (Asteraceae) Kakuda Lapua W Leaves FODDER Kakuda
Phaseolus vulgaris L. (Fabaceae) Grosha* C (brown and white landraces) Dried seeds FOOD: soups Grosh FOOD: boiled, generally cooked together fresh or dried meat, adding bone marrow (galgo)
Pisum sativum L. (Fabaceae) Grashaka* C Seeds FOOD: cooked with meat or potatoes Nahut
Plantago major L. (Plantaginaceae) Lule deli W Leaves MEDICINAL: tea, for treating kidney stones; externally applied for treating cuts Bajsht delit MEDICINAL: external applications of leaves and roots for treating furuncles
Primula veris L. (Primulaceae) Gornicfet* W Flowers MEDICINAL: sold and traded in the past – use unknown Garicfet
Prunus avium L. (Rosaceae) Shurshia SD Fresh fruits FOOD: consumed raw; syrups Qershi
Prunus cerasus L. (Rosaceae) Vishnja* SD Fruits FOOD: consumed raw, or dried, or in syrups Vishnja
    Resin (smol*) MEDICINAL: externally applied on skin inflammations  
Prunus cerasus L. var. marasca (Host.) Viv. (Rosaceae) Shurshia e egër SD Fruits FOOD: consumed raw or dried, or in syrups  
Prunus domestica L. (Rosaceae) Kumbulla Gjagalka SD (many diverse landraces, with yellow, red, and black fruits) Fruits FOOD: consumed raw or dried; cooked with sugar and dried, and consumed as candies; hoshaf* – thickened fruit juice preserve; it is diluted with water (and eventually sugar) and drunk Kumla
    Fresh fruits (fermented 1–2 months and then resulting must distilled)→raki* MEDICINAL: instilled in the ear for treating earaches; drunk as a “healthy” beverage for the heart (rare) or to counteract tiredness; externally applied as a disinfectant for wounds MEDICINAL: distillate externally applied on bullet wounds
Pyrus communis L. (Rosaceae) Dardha W Fresh fruits FOOD: consumed raw Dardha
Rhamnus alpina L. (Rhamnaceae)   W Fruits FOOD: consumed as snacks  
Robinia pseudoacacia L. (Fabaceae) Bagrem* W Fresh flowers HONEY PLANT: the resulting honey is considered effective against cough  
Rosa canina L. (s.l.) (Rosaceae) Kaça Shipinka* W Fresh fruits FOOD: jams Kaç
    Dried fruits MEDICINAL: tea, for treating cold, fever, cough  
Rubus idaeus L. (Rosaceae) Medra W Fresh fruits FOOD/MEDICINAL: consumed raw; syrup (sok*) and hoshaf* (dense thickened juice, diluted with water and drunk) are considered healthy Medr
  Mjedra     
  Malina*     
    Dried leaves MEDICINAL: tea, for treating cold  
Rubus schleicheri Weihe ex Tratt. and other Rubus spp. (Rosaceae) Manaferra W Fresh fruits FOOD: consumed raw; jams Monca
Rumex acetosella L. (Polygonaceae) Gisilica* W Fresh and dried leaves FOOD: filling for pies (in the past leaves were dried and stored for the winter, then rehydrated in water and used as a fresh vegetable) Gasilica
  Kiselica*     
  Kisilica*     
Rumex patientia L. (Polygonaceae) Lepçeta W Fresh leaves FOOD: filling for pie (peta) Lipgjet FOOD: consumed boiled with/in dhalt (kind of Albanian buttermilk)
Salix alba L. and other Salix spp. (Salicaceae) Shelçe W Fresh branches HANDICRAFTS: weaved in diverse kinds of baskets (kosh*) Shelçe MEDICINAL: steam baths for treating rheumatisms
Salvia verticillata L. (Lamiaceae) Gamnash W Fresh flowers HONEY PLANT: The honey obtained from bees visiting the plant is considered very effective against bronchitis  
Sambucus ebulus L. (Adoxaceae) Basdalina* W Fresh leaves MEDICINAL: topically applied against snake bites  
  Shtog i egër     
Sambucus nigra L. (Adoxaceae) Shtog W Flowers FOOD/MEDICINAL: syrup (sok*) considered a cough remedy (expectorant); sometimes also given to children affected by belly pains to drink Shtog
    Fresh fruits FOOD: syrups and jams  
    Wood HANDICRAFTS: for building spindles*  
Satureja montana L. (Lamiaceae) Lis W Fresh flowers HONEY PLANT  
Secale cereale L. (Poaceae) Thekna C Fruits FODDER Thekn FOOD: kurkurama - gruel made by rye, corn, wheat and beans
     FOOD: roasted, as a coffee substitute*  
    Dried fruits (grounded)→Flour FOOD: in the past used for baking sourdough bread (bukë çerepi) -prepared adding dhallët (buttermilk) and fermenting 2–3 days - and also for pies FOOD: buk thekninta – sourdough bread; buk e persiet – sourdough bread made by mixing rye, wheat, and corn flours
    Dried aerial parts (straw) HANDICRAFTS: filling for horse saddles, pillows and mattresses --
Sideritis spp. (Lamiaceae) Çaj malit B (brought from the town pazar/market, presumably gathered from mountainous areas nearby) Dried flowering aerial parts MEDICINAL: tea for treating cold  
Solanum tuberosum L. (Solanaceae) Repa* C Tubers FOOD: traditionally consumed boiled with piprik e shtupun (see Capsicum annuum); fried, or roasted Kampire
  Kompira*     
     MEDICINAL: slices of a fresh tuber were externally applied on the forehead for treating headaches  
    Young leaves FOOD: boiled and consumed as vegetables with buttermilk, or as filling for pies (especially in the past – however one elderly couple confirmed that they also consume them nowadays)  
Syringa vulgaris L. (Oleaceae) Ergovan* C Flowers ORNAMENTAL Ergavan
Tanacetum vulgare L. (Asteraceae) Vratik* W Dried flowering tops MEDICINAL: tea, as a digestive; in the past, the decoctions were externally used for washing children affected by rubella or persons affected by hepatitis* – for this last use sometimes the decoction was also drunk  
VETERINARY: considered poisonous for calves
OTHERS: placed in closets as a moth repellent
Taraxacum officinale Weber (Asteraceae) Bastë e egër W Fresh leaves FOOD: eaten in spring salads  
Thymus serpyllum L. (s.l.) Lis Majçina dushnica* W Aerial parts MEDICINAL: tea, for treating cold and cough  
(Lamiaceae)
    Fresh flowers HONEY PLANT  
Tilia cordata Mill. (Malvaceae) Lipa* SD Dried inflorescences MEDICINAL: tea, for treating colds Blini
    Fresh flowers HONEY PLANT  
    Resin (smol*) MEDICINAL: externally applied to skin inflammations  
Trifolium spp. (Fabaceae) Detelina* W Fresh flowers HONEY PLANT; Trfonj
FODDER: for cows, it is considered a galactagogue (promoting milk production)
Trigonella foenum-graecum L. (Fabaceae) Gruni piprikes C Dried aerial parts FOOD: as an ingredient of the seasoning mix piprik e shtupun (see Capsicum annuum)  
Triticum aestivum L. (Poaceae) Grur C Fruits FOOD Gruni FOOD: kukurama - gruel made by rye, corn, wheat and beans
    Fruits (ground)→Flour FOOD: bread and pies FOOD: buk e ngjeshun – leavened bread; buk grunit – sourdough bread; buk e persiet – bread obtained mixing corn, rye, and wheat flours peçiv - kind of crusty bread, with a buttered inner part fli - a kind of crusty bread, made by several alternate layers of dough and butter, each layer is baked in sequence; koleç - bread made by diverse little bread units; ndurdhi - like fli, but with thicker layers, which are broken and finally dipped with melted butter bosa – a lacto-fermented beverage made with wheat flour, mixed with millet flour (or maize flour), which was boiled in water approx. 12 hrs.; the resulting mass was then knitted by hands and, after the adding of yeast, kept overnight, until it was dissolved in water; in the upper Reka, young men used to migrate to town as bosa producers and vendors in the Ottoman Empire
Vaccinium myrtillus L. (Ericaceae) Shurshia të egra W Fresh fruits FOOD/MEDICINAL: consumed raw, and sometimes believed to be “healthy for the blood”; syrups and jams; the fresh fruits are nowadays gathered in the summertime in large amounts and sold to middle men from Gostivar Qyrshiat t egra
  Baruk     
  Borovnica*     
    Dried leaves MEDICINAL: tea, used for heart problems  
Veratrum album L. (Melanthiaceae) Shtarë W Roots VETERINARY: decoctions, in external washes for treating lice in animals; root inserted in the horse’s breast for treating muscular blocks (horses can’t be ridden anymore) Shtar VETERINARY: decoction of the roots was used for treating scabies in sheep
    Fresh leaves VETERINARY: considered poisonous if animals consume them in large amounts (foaming at the mouth) VETERINARY: Consuming large amounts of the leaves of the same plant was considered poisonous in sheep (foaming at the mouth), even very rarely lethal
    Dried leaves OTHERS: smoked as tobacco substitute  
Verbascum thapsus L. (Scrophulariaceae) Bubujak Brusla W Fresh leaves MEDICINAL: externally as an haemostatic Bubujak
OTHERS: used for covering butter, peppers with ricotta cheese, or lacto-fermented vegetables
Urtica dioica L. (Urticaceae) Kapriva* W Fresh leaves FOOD/MEDICINAL: consumed boiled (also in the past mixed with sorrel and potato leaves) or in soups, or as filling for savory pies – consumption of nettle is considered healthy as a “blood depurative” MEDICINAL: externally rubbed for treating rheumatisms Kopriva
    Roots FOOD: used in the past as rennet  
MEDICINAL: decoctions are considered able to treat cancer and especially to relieve liver problems (decoction of the leaves and roots together)
Zea mays L. (Poaceae) Çenk Kolomoç Barsak C (white and yellow landraces) Fruits FODDER Mçenk Kalamoç FOOD: kukurama - gruel made by rye, corn, wheat and beans
    Dried fruits (ground)→Flour FOOD: buk kolomoçit - bread (traditionally leavened with buttermilk [dhallët]); ingredient of the seasoning mix bagrdar - polenta obtained boiling the flour for at least one hour on the fire, generally served with buttermilk (dhallët), or clarified butter (tlynë) or yogurt (kos) - esp. ewe yogurt (kos delje); alternatively, polenta is served with beans or potato soup; pies (peta), filled with various vegetables FOOD: buk mçenkut – bread; buk pervlue – sourdough bread; pershenik- leavened bread; pershesh - pershenik dipped in buttermilk [dhalt] or yogurt [kos]) mçenka (like kukurama, but prepared with corn only); bagrdar or kaçamak me tlynë - polenta served with clarified butter
     FODDER  
RITUAL: corn flour was brought to the Islamic spiritual guide (hoxha), who “wrote” something with this; this was considered essential for treating the evil eye of a member of the family
Various herbaceous species   W Fresh stem MEDICINAL: inserted into the anus, as a purgative  
Various tree species   W Wood (burned) →Charcoal MEDICINAL: used in the past in the ritual healing of the evil-eye: three pieces of hot coals were put in cold water; with the resulting water child face was washed (generally it has to be done by the first-born for his/her brothers/sisters; the first-born has to be treated by a neighbour) and the same water had to be drunk by the child or animal; depending on how the coal was dipped into water, this was also used for the diagnosis of the evil-eye – sometimes the water was given to the child in three spoons, which were then thrown behind the back; depending on how the spoons fell on the ground, the occurrence of the evil-eye was confirmed  
    Ash OTHERS: for washing clothes  
Not identified Ferra magjara W Leaves FODDER: for donkeys  
Not identified Kulosgjarpni W Fresh flowers VETERINARY: applied externally against snake bites in horses  
Not identified Morava* W Leaves FOOD: filling for savory pies  
  1. * Recorded local phytonyms, names of plant parts or plant preparations, which have been recorded also among South Slavs (even if the etymology may not be always Slavic; according to [22, 3444]); B: bought; C: cultivated; SD: semi-domesticated (not cultivated), but in some way “managed”; W: wild.