Scents of sage, lavender and cornflowers rise from the meadows of Albania, which has seen soaring overseas demand for medicinal herbs since the coronavirus pandemic.
In Sheqeras, at the foot of the Mali i Thate mountain in Albania’s south, it is the season for cornflowers, a plant traditionally valued for its ability to boost the metabolism and resistance to infections.
Early in the morning, before the heat of the day, dozens of women wearing broad-rimmed hats, hand-pick the magnificent signature-blue flowers that attract clouds of butterflies and bees.
The cornflowers are then dried in darkened rooms to preserve their colour before being shipped abroad.
For the past few years, Albania has been one of Europe’s top producers of medicinal herbs, mostly wild plants harvested in the foothills.
About 95 percent are exported to the United States, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany or Italy.
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