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Zdravets

The zdravets, whose Latin name is geranium macrorrhizum, is a member of the wild geranium family and grows in abundance throughout Macedonia. A perennial plant, it adapts well to various types of soil and light conditions and is suited to the rocky, dry soil of the mountainous Balkans. The large green leaves (which are shaped like maple leaves) have a pleasant citrus scent and in the springtime produce pinkish purple flowers.

The plants were first brought to Canada from the Balkans and can be found in most Macedonian gardens. It was traditional to plant a zdravets in front of your home to bring good health (zdravje) to those entering. In fact, many Macedonians who first came to Canada were able to identify the homes of other Macedonians by noting the zdravets as they walked by. Today, many Canadians of all backgrounds plant the zdravets to complement their gardens.

Macedonians cherish this plant as their own and organizations such as Canadian Macedonian Place even use the five-petalled flower as their logo. In the embroidery and carvings of the Kalash people of Pakistan, who are said to be the descendants of Alexander the Great’s soldiers, images of the zdravets can be found even though the plant does not grow in the region.





 

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