Now this is one amazing flower! Buhač is its the name in Croatian or, in English, Dalmatian chrysanthemum
If you want to test a local on his/her knowledge on Dalmatia and looking for a good question, just ask them what Buhač is and if they an recognize it in the wild.
So what is so special about it?
Dalmatian chrysanthemum (Tanacetum cinerariifolium) is a native flower from Dalmatia and it looks like an over sized daisy with stems that can grow up to one meter in height. Buhač is economically important as a natural source of insecticide. The flowers are pulverized and the active components, called pyrethrins, are mixed in water or oil, or used as a powder. Pyrethrins attack the nervous systems of all insects, and prevent female mosquitoes from biting. Pyrethrins are harmful to fish, but are far less toxic to mammals and birds than many chemical insecticides. They are considered to be the safest insecticide for use around food.
The story of buhač starts in 1840 in Dubrovnik when Anna Rosauer realized that there were dead bugs next to the bouquet of buhač flowers she picked few days prior to that. She immediately started experimenting with pulverizing the flowers but the work on getting a right formula was finalized few years later by a local doctor Anton Drobac. The years that followed were full of experimenting with soils and specific plants to get the best solution for cultivating. All that led to first exports to European coutries and, in 1859. to US. The production reached it’s peak in 1925 with 2560 hectares of buhač planted all over Dalmatia! Even my mom remembers how people were still picking buhač right after WW2 when everything slowly moved to agriculture to industry…
But buhač is not easy to grow. The quality of active matter varies greatly on the region where it is grown and it is often considered that it grows best in areas of Dalmatia where”one can see the sea”. Also, the active substance (pyrethrin) is not easy to keep stable and many challenges were imposed to a growing industry. Thus, some started experimenting with buhač in different areas of the world and the best areas to grow it are in Africa and Australia with Kenya producing about 90% of World’s production. There was an attempt to reintroduce buhač back in Dalmatia back in late 1990s but it failed as no one was interested in working in the fields despite good prices… I also heard a story of a guy in Solin who managed to get the percentage of the pyrethrin to an unbelievable level but our government was not interested. Typical…Another great natural potential not being exploited.
Still, quite pretty in May when it blossoms!