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Setting out on a wild herb “hunt” in Salzburg

As the first buds begin to emerge, you realize that springtime has finally sprung in Salzburg! One of the most beautiful places in our City of Mozart to enjoy the year’s first rays of sunshine is Hans-Donnenberg-Park. It’s hard to imagine that here, in addition to lush green meadows, you will also find wild herbs of every kind imaginable – right in the middle of the city! We took a walk with local herb expert Karina Reichl and picked up some useful tips from her along the way.

A stroll in the park strengthens the immune system

Only a few people are aware that Hans-Donnenberg-Park in the south of our Mozart metropolis even exists. No wonder really, hidden away as this nature paradise for outdoor lovers is between Hohensalzburg Fortress and Nonntal. Joggers trot mellowly along, kids kick around a soccer ball, while right across from them, groups of senior citizens are perched on park benches enjoying an afternoon chat and getting their dose of sunshine. Numerous apple trees, tall birches and centuries-old lindens flank the pathway through this shady park. “All of these trees are precisely what make this park here in the south of Salzburg so irresistible”, Karina Reichl points out, adding: “Actually, studies have shown that regular walks in the forest kick start the immune system and can even help prevent cancer. The secret is so-called bioactive substances that we breathe in or simply absorb through the skin.” A really good reason, then, to find the nearest green space, take a deep breath, let go, and stay fit in the process!

Spring herbs as health boosters

Okay. So, trees have positive effects on our well-being – we know that now. But aside from the trees, all kinds of spring herbs grow in Salzburg’s city parks until early June as well. Especially popular and well-known to practically every local: wild garlic. That said, it isn’t exactly easy to tell the difference between this miraculous green plant and its “twin”, the lily of the valley, which our herb expert readily admits: “If you take a closer look at the leaf of wild garlic, you’ll notice that the top of the leaf is shiny, while the bottom is dull. If you rub the leaf in your hands, you’ll quickly notice the smell of garlic, which is characteristic.” Wild garlic has all kinds of uses, plus it cleanses your body and it soothes the intestines. A natural form of detox therapy, in other words!

Now, if you don’t happen to be a fan of wild garlic, Karina has an equally good alternative up her sleeve: It’s known as celandine and is recognizable by its yellow blossoms. This Vitamin C-rich herb does wonders for a smoothie or salad. So, as you might guess by now, you will also find all kinds of other naturally growing herbs right here in the heart of Salzburg. Karina recommends: “All you need to do is find the nearest patch of green, keep your eyes peeled and check out the herbs for yourself – you’re sure to be thrilled by what you unearth!”

Tree-resin ointments

At some point, we have all had to deal with a cut, a mild skin infection, a virus – who hasn’t, right? A very simple and effective way of treating all of these conditions is an ointment made from tree resin. And according to our expert, the great thing is we don’t necessarily have to go into a shop and buy it. We can also make it ourselves. As the name suggests, the basis for this ointment is resin from a conifer. Its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effects have been known for centuries and used to treat chest complaints, gout and rheumatism, as well as open wounds.Now we have to say, despite this wealth of wild herbs, not every herb is appropriate for everyone. When selecting herbs, you always have to be aware of your personal preferences. “Bottom line: A herb only works if you like the taste and it works for you”, she adds with a smile. Plus, you should only take wild herbs in controlled doses. As Paracelsus once said, “Everything is a poison … only the dosage makes the difference”. That’s why Karina suggests changing your herbs and teas every 4 to 6 weeks.

So, have we whet your curiosity? In that case, you might also want to consider booking a personally guided herb hike with Karina Reichl during your visit to Salzburg. You can find more information online at www.fräuleingrün.at.

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