During the 4th meeting of PLANT WILD Grundtvig Project participants had the opportunity to visit different spice markets (bazaars) in Kilis and Gaziantep, where different cultivated plant products and wild collected medicinal plants were sold.
It was mentioned that Kilis-Gaziantep district is the main red pepper’s cultivation and production area and the most famous place in Turkey for its spice production/trade centers. The importance of the region with respect to spices and medicinal plants date back to its historical background as Silk Road Route and geographical position where two floristic regions, Mediterranean and Irano – Turanian, meet on there.
In Kilis we could see people selling fresh zahter (Thymbra spicata) sprouts in local bazaars, on the wheel by peddlers, and in front of spice shops. Fresh zahter sprouts are used to prepare local seasoning salads and pickles with organic olive oil, sour pomegranate syrup, red pepper and salt for winter.
Zahter plant has deep cultural importance in the region, so its different forms are used as green, spice, herbal tea, breakfast mixture powder (Breakfast Zahter Powder; dry zahter leaves, spices and nuts mixture) and medicinal plants. All the zahter materials sold in the market and locally home use are gathered around the hills in Kilis.
Many spice shops in Kilis and Gaziantep were selling dry herbs (zahter, thyme, mint, melissa, rosemary, heather, green tea, sage, sideritis, chamomile, St John’s wort, caltrop (Tribulus terrestris L.), mistletoe, dodder etc.) and spice/grains (anise, coriander, black cumin, fennel, mahaleb, cumin, sumac, terebinth etc.) and tropical spices. Besides these raw materials, a number of processed herbal materials such as aromatic waters (oregano water, rosemary water, rose water etc.), aromatic oils (thyme essential oil, rosemary essential oil, melissa essential oil etc.), capsulated plant extracts, herbal pastes, herbal teas, herbal cosmetics and more.
Special mention to terebinth fruits (Pistacia terebinthus), are still obtained from wild, that after cleaned and roasted they are milled to obtain a kind of tasteful local herbal coffee. We had the opportunity to visit Sekeroglu Spice Company (Kilis), where this product is processed, packed and sold to all Turkey and Europe, as a substitute of coffee (Coffea arabica). They also produce sour syrup from pomegranate (Punica granatum) that it is used to seasoning salads.
During our journey we visited a 55 years old planted forest of Pinus brutia arranged as a leisure park, and conditioned with ornamental and local species, with the aim of training Gaziantep population in botanic issues.
The group could also see different medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) and collections of roses’ varieties in the Botanical Garden of Gaziantep.