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The undergrowth is the group of bushes, small shrubs and ferns that grows above the grasses, moss and lichens in the shade of the forest trees. It is of great importance to the life of the forest itself because it protects the soil from runoff and surface erosion and protects insects and small mammals from excessive temperature fluctuations and wind; it also helps conserve moisture in the soil, enriches the soil by forming humus with its organic matter debris, and finally provides food for birds and larger mammals. In the past, the undergrowth offered man secondary products such as: planking, litter (hay, dry leaves for animal feed and material for making simple bedding), tasty fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and some medicinal plants, as well as mushrooms.
FERNS(1) Famiglia Pteridophyta
Ferns have roots that absorb water from the soil, have a stem and leaves containing chlorophyll that capture sunlight. But they have no flowers! Ferns in fact reproduce by spores. On the underside of the fronds are the sporangia, small yellow-orange masses which, when mature, release their spores. Various types can be found on Monte San Michele: Sweet Fern and Male Fern at the foot of trees and Asplenio in the cavities of rocks or dry-stone walls.
HEPATICA(2) Hepatica nobilis, Famiglia Ranuncolacee
Widespread in Europe, in mountainous or hilly regions, on moist soils, in calcareous undergrowth.
FOGLIE: tutte basali, persistenti, a forma di cuore, spesse e trilobate, con sottofoglia viola e lunghi piccioli.
FIORI: blu-lilla, da 6-8 petali con stami e antere bianco-rossicce, fioritura marzo/aprile.
USI: un tempo per curare malattie del fegato e cicatrizzare le ferite, ma l’uso medicinale di questa pianta velenosa è stato abbandonato.
BUTCHER's BROOM(3) Ruscus aculeatus, Famiglia Asparagaceae
Butcher's broom is a small evergreen shrub that often forms impenetrable tangles of vegetation.
FUSTO: verde ed eretto, ramificato, ricco alla sommità di cladodi.
FOGLIE: ovali, rigide e molto pungenti, chiamate cladodi, di colore verde cupo, coriacee, alterne, sessili, terminanti con una spina, portano al centro i fiori.
FRUTTI: bacca rotonda rossa con 1-2 semi gialli.
FIORI: piccoli, violacei o verdastri, fioriscono a settembre ed aprile con 3 sepali e 3 petali liberi.
RADICE: rizoma strisciante, bianco-grigiastro, nodoso.
The butcher's broom in culture
The name 'butcher's broom' derives from the peasant custom of protecting cured meats and cheeses from mice with bunches of this plant. In the country houses of the Veneto region, the branches were placed at the foot of tables or on shelves, on which silkworms were bred. The seeds, properly roasted, were once used as coffee substitutes, especially in lean times. The sprouts can be tied in small bunches and cooked with the tops upwards, then eaten in salads, soups or risottos. Butcher's Broom is widely used in phytotherapy as a diuretic and febrifuge; it helps the venous system. It is used in the preparation of the 5-root syrup, together with the rhizomes of wild fennel, wild celery, asparagus and parsley. The berries of the butcher's broom are poisonous and their ingestion can cause convulsions. The branches of the butcher's broom with red berries are also used as Christmas decorations.
The name 'Hepatica'
Its name comes from the shape and color of the liver (in Greek epar-epatos) to which the leaves of the plant resemble on the lower page. It is also called "Herba trinitas" because in the medieval frescoes of the churches the shape of its leaves was used to symbolically represent the Trinity (single leaf with three lobes = one God in three persons).
The CTG El Preon APS Group has decided to dedicate this route among nature, history and tradition to the memory of one of the group's founding members, Romano Giacomelli, a tireless supporter of Cavaionese culture and education, who passed away in 2022.