This article was translated by Angela Iancu!
Identification elements: the plant: annual, herbaceous, cultured species, rarely wild, upright, 30-70 cm tall, densely branched from the base, emanating a pleasant lemon odor; the root: fibrous, pretty shallow (until 35-40 cm); the stem: visible four angled, sometimes with reddish hues, hairy: the basal ramifications are upright and they are almost as long as the stem; the leaves: opposed, oblong lanceolate, with the petiole 2-5 times shorter than the limb; the flowers: grouped in whorls at the axil of the upper leaves, more closer as they reach the top, taking the shape of lengthened spikes, the flowers have the corolla bilabial, purple-blue (the flowers with a white corolla are removed during selection because they have a lower content of oil); the fruits: brown nucula, grouped in 4 at the base with the persistent calyx.
Flowering: VII – VIII.
The raw material: Herba Dracocephali – formed out of branched stems with oblong lanceolate leaves, deeply serrate crenate on the margins, glabrous or very short haired, 1,5-7 cm long and 0,7-2 cm wide. The flowers in whorls of 6-10, white or violet-blue corolla. The raw material is formed out of the foliaged aerial part harvested before full flowering. Pleasant, lemon like odour, slightly bitter aromatic flavour.
Ecology and distribution: This species requires strong light for growing. The demands for warmth are moderate in the first stages of vegetation but afterwards – for the production of the essential oil – it requires a high average temperature. Towards humidity the demands are higher from the period of emerging till ramification; the heavy rains before harvesting are unwanted because they lead to lower oil content.
It likes sunny soils with a light or medium texture, rich in humus, with a sufficient humidity but permeable because the dragon’s head is extremely sensitive towards excess water.
Cultivation technology: The dragon’s head prefers as foregoing plants the pulses and the one that clear the land early. It can come back on the same soil after a break of 4-5 years.
Immediately after the harvest of the foregoing plant, it is recommended that the soil is superficially worked and in autumn it will be done a deep plough of 28-30 cm which will remain like this over the winter. Together with the autumn plough, the soil will receive 30-40 kg/ha of phosphor. In the spring, before seeding, it will be put 30-40 kg/ha of nitrogen. Until seeding, the land is worked with the combiner or with the cultivator with harrow. Depending on the soil’s humidity, especially when this is lower or the soil is too aired, it is recommended that before and after seeding the soil will be rolled.
The seeding is done in the second half of April. The space between the rows will be 50 cm and the seeding depth 1-1,5 cm. For one hectare are necessary 3 kg of seed, 97% purity, 80% germination and 12% maximum humidity. The average weight of a 1000 seeds is around 1,8 g and one gram usually contains 563 seeds.
As maintenance work are recommended 3-4 mechanical hoeing, 1-2 manual and a weeding. The first mechanical hoeing is done as soon as the rows are distinguishable. When the first manual hoeing and weeding are done, when the plants have 4-5 leaves, they are singled at a distance of 10-15 cm from each other.
The harvest of the aerial parts of the dragon’s head is done according to the type of production. The raw material will be harvest at the beginning of flowering when it is intended for tea production. When the raw material is intended for the oil production, then it is harvested when 35% of the crop has flowered because the oil concentration is maximum at a 50% flowering. Because the harvested raw material cannot be distilled in one day, the harvest starts earlier. The harvest is done with the mechanical mower, at a distance of 15-20 cm above the soil.
When the product will be dehydrated, the harvest is done after the dew evaporated and for the volatile oil extraction in the morning between 7-10 and in the afternoon between 16-19.
After the harvest, 10-15 kg/ha of nitrogen will be spread between the rows and the crop will be manually and mechanical hoed.
The second raw material harvest will be obtained at 45 days after the first one. One hectare of dragon’s head produces 1500-2000 kg of dehydrated raw material.
Preparing the product for conditioning: After the harvested plants are faded a little, they are transported to the drying place, in the shade and they are spread in thin layers on frameworks. The artificial drying is done at the beginning at 35-40°C and afterwards the temperature is slowly reduced to 20-30°C. The drying efficiency is 4,5-5/1.
The technical conditions require that the product is formed out of stems with ramifications harvested before full flowering; brown stems are not admitted. The percentage for impurities will be max. 2% brownish leaves, foreign mineral and organic bodies – max. 1% for each, humidity – max. 13%. For the fresh product, the technical conditions for reception are identical to those for the oil peppermint.
Chemical structure: volatile oil rich in citral, geranyl acetate etc.
Pharmacodynamic action – therapeutic uses: Due to the components, the volatile oil has antispastic and carminative properties. Vitamin A can be obtained from citral by industrial means. For the food industry it can be used for obtaining some syrups or refreshing drinks. Also, it can be used in the perfume industry.