Lately, Greek authorities have been reporting that roving troupes of plant rustlers, assumed to be escaping impoverished living conditions in their native home of Albania, are crossing the border to illegally harvest Greece’s supply of ironwort, a medicinal tea that grows abundantly in the Mediterranean, as well as primrose and hawthorn. The herbs are then exported to pharmaceutical or cosmetics companies.
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The endangered species of tealeaf is strictly regulated in Greece, where it’s only legal to pick a small amount for personal use. The looters don’t follow the same careful harvesting practices: Apparently, they are tearing up herbs and plants by the fistful, stripping the mountainside and interrupting the plants natural reproductive cycle.