Flora – new stamps from Slovenia

March 22nd, 2013

The new stamps by Posta Slovenije are dedicated to the local flora. The three individual stamps feature Jujube, Fig and Loquat, and the souvenir sheet illustrates Service Tree.

The jujube or red date is a smallish tree or bush that is native to Asia, including up to the Mediterranean. It is a very slow-growing deciduous bush with thorny stems. The leaves are whole and shiny, with serrated edges. The tiny flowers with their greenish-yellow petals do not draw the attention of the observer, and attract only insects, which pollinate the flowers. The fruit is brown, oval, two to three centimeters long, with a very hard pit surrounded by a juicy pericarp, which for around 8,000 years now has represented for humans a source particularly of vitamins and sugar. The therapeutic effects of the jujube have also been described.

The fig is the only Mediterranean representative of the genus ficus, mainly tropical plants in the Moraceae family. The fig is a relatively small, fast-growing deciduous tree that contains a milky sap which is a skin irritant and should not touch the eyes. The leaves are very variable, but grow most commonly in a five-lobed form. The inflorescence is contained within the infructescence, and the flowers are not noticeable.

The part that is eaten is in fact the fleshy inflorescence. Figs have high energy value, owing especially to their very high sugar content. They are consumed fresh, and especially in dried form. They are also used in cooking, for conserves and liqueurs.

The loquat originates from China, and in Slovenia it is found in its cultivated form mainly just in the coastal zone. It is a small tree with very big (20-25 cm) evergreen, whole leaves. A peculiarity of this tree is that it blossoms in late autumn or in winter, but the fruits are ripe in June. The loquat has white flowers measuring up to 2 cm, while the golden-orange oval to round fruits are 3-5 cm long. The juicy pericarp contains one to five black seeds. The majority of loquats are cultivated for ornamental purposes, although the fruits, which contain acid, sugar and starch, are edible and have a fine sweet and tart flavour.

The service tree is a wild-growing species found in the warmer parts of Europe, and further afield, as far as the Caucasus. It is a deciduous tree with pinnate leaves that grows in Slovenia as a native species in Primorska and especially Slovenian Istria, while elsewhere in Slovenia it is cultivated or has grown wild. The service tree is in the Rosaceae family, and its whitish flowers bloom in corymbs and develop into pear-like fruit, 2-3 cm long, at first yellow, and then when turned towards the sun, with a reddish hue. The unripe fruit is bitter, so like must pears they are consumed when they "honey" and the pericarp becomes soft and brownish. The service tree is an ancient forest fruit.

The fruits were gathered as a source of vitamin C, they were dried, and in some areas they were even used in jams and spirits, like must pears. The service tree is rare, and outside its Mediterranean area it is rapidly disappearing from the cultural landscape.

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