The scent of Mare Nostrum: medicinal and aromatic plants in Mediterranean soils


  • Mare Nostrum (‘Our Sea’) was the Latin name for the Mediterranean Sea.


In the Mediterranean area, the simultaneous occurrence of pedological, climatic and economic constraints often sets a limit on the profitability of agriculture, and farmers are forced to grow a reduced number of species, dealing with a secure—albeit low—market income. The introduction of medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) inside the current farming systems could represent a useful means to meet the multifunctional role of agriculture: producing safe food, in respect of the environment, and contributing to the development of rural areas. The study of the relationships between MAPs and the soils in which they may be grown may have two approaches: (1) the evaluation of yield and qualitative response of MAPs to the variation of soil features; and (2) the study of selective recovery of certain elements (toxic and beneficial), and their subsequent release in herbal products. In many MAPs, significant variations of plant characteristics have been ascertained with varying soil traits, and the selective recovery and subsequent release in food of certain elements have been demonstrated. Hence, great attention must be paid to the choice of soil and cropping strategies, to obtain satisfactory yields of high quality and best-priced products, respecting their safety and nutritional value. Copyright © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry