TRADITION OF ARMENIAN HERBAL TEA CULTURE ANDNATURAL MULTIPLICATION OF THYMUS SERPYLLUM AS A SUPPORT MATTER OF ECOLOGICAL BALANCE AND BIO-CONSERVATIONArmen Mehrabyan 7/3 Komitas str., apt.33, Yereva,PhD Food Technology and MD Ethno-botany, 375012, Armenia,CEO of “HAM” LLC and Creator of Ancient Herbals ® Cell (+37491) 207957, email: email@example.com URL: www.armeniantea.comPreface For over 7000 years, the cave pictures (pethroglifs) of Geghama and Syunyats/Ukhtasarmountains have conveyed the tradition of gathering and blending wild herbs; this has been, andcontinues to be an integral part of the daily lives of the Armenian people. The method of collection,processing, blending and brewing of the tea has been passed down from generation to generation, as itis mentioned in ancient manuscripts. In Armenian ancient manuscript library – depository,“Matenadaran” in Yerevan, more than 1500 manuscripts, are described several varieties of wild plantsand methods of there usage, both for medical purposes and in national cuisine. The flora of Armenia depends on geographical location and the structure of the grounddetermines the conditions of climatic diversity. The herbal teas are an essential part of a tasty andhealthful diet in the Armenian culture. Wherever and whenever there has been a social gathering,herbal teas have been brewed to share with family and friends. From more then 3200 varieties of wildherbs, about 500 are used as a part of food dining culture. The herbal teas are characterized by a pleasant taste and aroma, by rich quantities of microbodies, vitamins, oils and other valuable components. These components play a special role in our life,food value, and also have a positive influence on our gastrointestinal tracts and health. Due to thesevaluable features, gradually, technological systems have been developed for herb collecting, drying,and other necessary procedures. The criteria used in choosing herbs for tea preparation is, first, great flavor; second, premiumquality; and finally, their ability to enhance the overall enjoyment of a fine meal.The Armenian herbal tea culture and its presence since ancient times, has become an essentialcomponent of the Armenian peoples lifestyle and part of food-pyramid. To have the best quality and thorough knowledge of herbal teas preparation, new technologicalsystems for production and natural multiplication of wild crafted herbs should be develop and suchsystems to ancient knowledge and modern practice need to be adjusting. “HAM” Ltd. was established in 1996 for this very purpose and from more then 15 rehabilitatedherbal tea ancient recipes the “Mediterranean Mint” herbal blend is а striking example of a revivedrecipe from ancient Armenian herbal tea culture, where the main components are carefully harvestedWild crafted Thyme, Wild Mint and Armenian Wild Oregano.Introduction During our more then 10 years scientific and herbal tea production experience we recognizethat on of the main component used in several herbal tea blends made in Armenia and loved byArmenian people is Wild Thyme. And unfortunately Wild Thyme varieties one of the several herbswhich is under serious threat of natural and genetic erosion, because of not proper selection of Thymespecies for harvesting as well as unsustainable harvesting and exploitation of these resources by localpeople taken place . That’s why there is an urgent need to raise awareness on wild plantsunsustainable harvesting and the fundamental studies are needed to identified quantity of naturalresources and varieties, established the genius bank and to investigate what should be done for wildplant recovery and self- regeneration in their natural habitats. We can say that natural resources are not properly exploited and that’s why our experience onnatural multiplication and crop improvement will be interesting and helpful for scientists, organicagriculture specialists and companies who are using wild crafted herbal crops to bring it into the wayof eco-balance and improvement of biodiversity. And parallel on that the contribution trough theenhancement of the collaboration of Government of Armenian, NGO, specialists and all otherinvolved players at various levels needs to be done for conservation and use of wild plants, especiallyon the several varieties which are already mentioned plants in the “National Red Book”.
This presented system of wild crafted herbs natural multiplication, on example of Thymus serpyllum,is important for conservation and biodiversity and one of the solutions of the above mentionedproblem. The Thymus species are perennial herbs with several stems, from Laminacea family. Thymusplants are widely used all over the world as a very popular spice and have a great economicimportance which is not only related to their use as a spice, but as a Food additives: flavoring (fide FJujuy; Ency CNatIn); Materials: essential oils (fide Ency CNatIn); Medicines: source of thymol;folklore (fide Import Medicinal Pl; CRC MedHerbs ed2; Herbs Commerce ed2).Test Experience Studies on germination of different species of Thymus (T.serpyllum, T.vulgaris, T.armeniacus,T.kochi) confirmed their poor germination and growing ability. The maximum percentage and speed ofgermination were obtained at a day/night regime of 22/15ºC (38% after 7-8 days) during the July inthe mountains (800 meter above se level), near the Odzun village of Lori region of Armenia. It isimportant to mention that previous year harvested seeds have a higher germination percentage thanfresh ones. It is one of the important characteristics which we used as an advantage for seedmultiplication and conservation. For natural multiplication of Thymus serpyllum in the field, were chosen 3 plots with 0,5hectare of each in the forest are of “KENARAR”, “ODZUNI SAR” and “TINATNI AGBYR” placesnear the Odzun. As it was mentioned, the Thymus seeds were collected from the middle of Septemberuntil the middle of October of previous year. For sowing purpose we take the 10 gram of selectedseeds and mixed with 1 kilo of forest soil and randomly broadcasted, taking into consideration theaverage sowing norm of 200 gram seeds per hectare. The same procedures we have done from1997till 2001 in all test plot. In those entire tree plots we continue try until 2002 crop harvest(multiplication were stop from 2001). Harvesting of Thymus crops were done 3 times a year duringJune-July and as a comparative matter we chosen the quantity of green mass (yield) of best croppingyear. Harvesting from each plot was done during one day in the mass flowering period and data areplaced in the following table. Table 1 Crop Harvesting Data of Thymus serpyllum from 0,5 hectare try areas Quantity of Crops by year 1996 1997 1998 N Test Plots Chec Testing Checki Testing Chec Testing king , kilo compar ng , kilo compar king , kilo compar kilo e with kilo e with kilo e with checkin checkin checkin g, g, g, 1 KENARAR 154 137 88.9 148 150 101.4 149 154 103.3 2 ODZUNI 142 144 101.5 145 149 102.7 144 152 105.5 SAR 3 TINATNI 143 140 97.9 147 152 103.4 150 161 111.3 1999 2000 2001 1 KENARAR 156 171 109.6 147 168 114.3 149 165 110.7 2 ODZUNI 150 164 109.3 150 168 112.0 139 156 112.2 SAR 3 TINATNI 148 162 109.5 147 159 108.2 149 159 106.7 Table 2Essential oil content of Thymus serpyllum related to the harvesting time and growing elevationN Test Plots elevation Essential oil content related to the harvesting time Average content /meter/ 28.06 8.07 18.07 27.07 7.08 17.08 27.08 of essential oil, %1 800900 0.32 0.39 0.42 0.42 0.30 0.28 0.19 0.3362 9001000 0.29 0.37 0.38 0.38 0.34 0.30 0.19 0.3213 10001100 0.24 0.31 0.38 0.410 0.35 0.32 0.26 0.3244 11001200 0.24 0.28 0.32 0.39 0.48 0.32 0.28 0.330
According from the result of analyzes of independent samples and comparative analyzes of test plotsthe conclusion made that: Current methodology of natural multiplication and/or rejuvenation of Thymus serpyllum in the filed are effective. It is important to made the Thymus seed collections in the year before starting natural multiplication In the second year of natural multiplication the growing rate of multiplication achieved up to 11,3% During the natural multiplication the higher crop index were identify during the fourth year and starting from that period the self rehabilitation and development of plant, without any anthropogenic factors, are registered and natural balance with the environment are achieved. Essential oil content do not much depend to the multiplication/or growing elevation, but depends from the harvesting time of crops, which is shown in the data of essential oil analyzes content of Thymus serpyllum from different elevation of the Odzun are.Hence, the natural multiplication and/or rejuvenation of Thymus serpyllum are an important source ofraw materials for demandable herbal teas. Knowledge of the large morphological and chemicaldiversity of the Thymus genus and the native distribution of its different taxa is essential for the betterexploitation of this very promising crop. And as a result of trials made, our conclusion is that thenatural multiplication has an ordinary limited level and caused for regulation of balance betweenenvironment and plants of wild Thymus without any metamorphoses and detriment to nature andecology.Sources: Bdoyan V. ,Agriculture in Armenia, Yerevan 1972 Duke, J. A. et al. 2002. CRC Handbook of medicinal herbs. (CRC MedHerbs ed2) ePIC: Electronic Plant Information Center of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Flora Europaea: Database of European Plants (ESFEDS) Gabrielyan N. and others , The Read Book of Armenian Flora, Yerevan, 1988 Grieve, Modern Herbals, Dover, 1971, vol.1,2 Harutyunyan H., Ancient Armenian medicinal plants, Yerevan 2001 Huxley, A., ed. 1992. The new Royal Horticultural Society dictionary of gardening. (Dict Gard) International Seed Testing Association. 1988. International Seed Testing Association list of stabilized plant names. (ISTA) King E. , Bill Plants for Armenian Garden, Dover, 1975 Kuznetsov M., Medicinal raw materials, Moscow, 1984 Larsen, A. et al., eds. 1992. Association of Official Seed Analysts Handbook 25. (AOSA Hb 25) Lawrence, B. M. 1992. Chemical components of Labiatae oils and their exploitation. In: Harley, R. M. & T. Reynolds, eds., Advances in labiate science. (Adv Lab Sci) 400. Leung, A. Y. & S. Foster. 1996. Encyclopedia of common natural ingredients used in food, drugs, and cosmetics, ed. 2. (Ency CNatIn) Mansfeld: Mansfelds World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops Markle, G. M. et al., eds. 1998. Food and feed crops of the United States, ed. 2. (Food Feed Crops US) Mehrabyan A. ,Justification of Herbal Tea Production Technology from the wild crafted plants of Lori region, Yerevan, 2006 Tsaturyan T.,The edible wild plants culture in Armenia, Yerevan 1959 Tutin, T. G. et al., eds. 1964-1980. Flora europaea. (F Eur) Vardanyan S. , The history of medicine in Armenia, Yerevan, 2000 Wiersema, J. H. & B. León. 1999. World economic plants: a standard reference. (World Econ Pl)