The juniper of the Apennines
Of all the treasures of the woodlands of the Pistoiese mountains, the elder is perhaps the lesser known. It’s a wild-growing treasure that is full of history and is witnessing a boom in alternative medicine.
Known in the Stone Age, this shrub with yellowy white flowers that bloom in spring and produce purplish black berries in the summer was the favourite of wizards and healers.
In the Roman and Greek era, gout, sciatica and rheumatism were cured with its infusions, whereas it was a fixed element in the woods behind the abbeys and monasteries in the Middle Ages given that the monks distilled perfect syrups to cure inflammation and infections of the digestive system from its berries.
Today, herbal teas are made from the juniper with purifying effects. It is also often used as an adjuvant in low calorie diets.
Many juniper berries are found in the mountains of Pistoia, although there aren’t as many people collecting juniper as there are collecting mushrooms.