Brnistra – the flower that borrowed its name to Split – Spartium and much more…
Most common wild flowering plant in Dalmatia is Spartium junceum, locally known as Brnistra.
One story says that town of Split draws its name from Brnistra, a common shrub in the area, after which the Greek colony of Aspálathos (Aσπάλαθος) or Spálathos (Σπάλαθος) was named.
Brnistra is a deciduous perennial plant of the legume family (Fabaceae) and it grows 2-3 meters in height. Plant creates a strong, well-developed and branched root that plunges deep through dry land in search of water. The branches are hollow, rounded, solid and very tough. Because of the durability that Brnistra has, the twigs were used for making baskets, brooms and for tying grapevines. Its shoots were cut, tied in bundles and further processed until elastic fibres were isolated. Due to the elasticity and strength, the fibre served as raw material for textile production.
In late spring and the summer branch is covered with fragrant bright yellow flowers which were used for filling the pillows and mattresses. Also, as they are rich with essential oil, Brnistra flowers are used in perfume production.
The flowers are about 2-2.5 cm long and have pleasant smell. They are located on thin stalks that are gathered in clusters of blossoms at the tips of branches. The fruits are flat, shiny, grey-black pods 4-8 cm long, 5-7 mm wide. At the end of the summer when they explode, shiny and rounded seeds fly away from the mother plant.
Weather you hike or walk the hills, brnistra is the best choice if you need to catch on something when climbing. Its roots are strong and deep, branches are tough, it can not happen that you will break it.
«Older and wiser» Dalmatians will say when Brnistra blooms hormons (both for females and males) start to work at its best. They will say Brnistra has aphrodisiac properties. Actually blooming happens in late spring, when the days get nicer, longer and warmer. It is also time when Dalmatians «wake up» from the long winter mode. Is it true or false? The only way to find out is to visit us in Croatia in late spring or early summer and discover for yourself…