The Plants of the Year 2016

For the year 2016 nature conservation organisations have once again selected individual species as “Plants of the Year” with the aim of drawing attention to their specific circumstances.

picture alliance/Arco Images - Wiesenschlüsselblume

Tree of the Year 2016: Small-leaf linden. An unassuming star was chosen by the “Tree of the Year” committee: the small-leaf linden, dainty sister to the large-leaf linden, is one of Germany’s most popular trees alongside the chestnut and the oak. It has inspired poets and musicians and has a bewitching smell, but requires little in return: it is equally at home along roads and in well-tended parks. What’s more, the blossom of this tree, which can reach an age of 1000, has been used for centuries to make tea to treat coughs and sneezes.

Flower of the Year 2016: Common cowslip. Its botanical name primula veris means “first flower of spring”, but sadly the common cowslip is becoming an ever more elusive harbinger of spring in Germany. The intensive use of meadows and fields, their fertilization and the encroachment of scrub are taking their toll on the light-loving cowslip. The endangered common cowslip was chosen by the Loki Schmidt Foundation with the aim of drawing attention to its conservation.

Healing Plant of the Year 2016: Java pepper. This plant is an anti-inflammatory, an anti-allergenic and, according to Hildegard von Bingen, creates “a cheerful spirit, a keen wit and a pure mind”: the Healing Plant of the Year 2016 is the Java pepper, originally from Indonesia. By choosing this plant, German natural healing organisation NHV Theophrastus aimed to draw attention to its medicinal effects to combat headaches, thick colds and urinary infections.

Medicinal Plant of the Year 2016: Common caraway. Parents know it well as the last hope for baby’s tummy ache: common caraway. It can not only be used as a spice to make fatty dishes more palatable, but its oil is scientifically proven to relieve cramps and bloating. Caraway oil in stomach-resistant capsules is also the first choice for irritable bowel syndrome. The study group for the historical development of plant-based medicine at the University of Würzburg chose this medicinal plant in order to highlight its scientific importance as an effective medicine.

Shrub of the year 2016: Iris. The elegant iris takes its name from no less a figure than the Greek goddess of the rainbow. Its blue flowers create a sea of colour around Lake Constance in early summer, during which time tens of thousands of blue-violet Siberian irises are in full bloom. Away from this magnificent sight, the iris is severely endangered in Germany and is protected by a federal species protection order.