Ballota acetabulosa

Greek horehound                                                                     Λυχναράκι, φουφούλες

Labiatae - mint family                                                                                              Dicot.


Seen throughout most of the year as erect, brittle stems covered in pale dry leaves and bracts. Ballota acetabulosa first appears in early summer as shoots with  light green, thick, crinkly leaves. The flowers, which appear soon after the leaves, are inconspicuous white tubules striped with purple, each is surrounded by a pale green bract and arranged in crowded spikes, The flowers quickly fall but the bracts continue to grow  and form the tiny papery cones which are characteristic of the plant.

Ballota acetabulosa is endemic to the Aegean, growing naturally nowhere else in the world. They are well adapted to hot dry conditions and thrive on stony ground. They are  important plants of phrygana but also found on wasteland, neglected fields and roadside. 


1.5-2cm, 15-40cm.20-60                                                                        JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC

Ballota acetabulosa
- a traditional use


The bracts of Ballota acetabulosa, were collected until recently, for lamp wicks.  They have been used since ancient times  for votive lamps and when floating in olive oil, they will burn for hours with a smokeless flame. 

The symbol of light is of great importance in Greek Orthodoxy, representing Jesus Christ,  "The Light of the World" .  Votive lamps are lit not only in churches and chapels but also before icons in people's homes and the shrines to commemorate loved ones, which are seen along the roadside throughout Greece.

To read an interesting article on lighting in ancient Greece click below for download:,d.ZGU

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