Around the villages of Psiloritis mountain there are sheep with golden teeth. Many a tale has been told of strange thing that have happened on this mountain the most famous being about the animals that graze on these slopes. Some of their teeth look as though they have been plated in gold. Tales tale us that it could be a herb, or possibly minerals in the ground.


This is a mystery which has created many myths and interesting stories while many have thought of exploiting the fact for profit, but the truth is that only a few have actually seen the golden teeth except of course the shepherds. This 'gold deposit'  is said to exist somewhere in the plateau of Nida. People actually used to think that there were gold mines in the area and that the plants drew substances from the ground passing then to the sheep whilst they eat, giving them the odd teeth colour, providing an explanation of this phenomenon that has never been confirmed by anyone. 


The first time this phenomenon was observed was in 1415 when Cristoforo Buondelmonti, a monk from Florence, travelled to Crete and heard these stories although he also never managed to see the golden-teeth sheep either. Albeit, he still described in his writings that “in Nida grows grass that makes sheep teeth become golden”! Since that time travellers have come from all over the world to witness this event.


Then once again in 1620 another gentleman named Piskaki wrote that the golden colour remained on the teeth even after the carcass of these sheep had been burnt. It was then the turn of a local practical doctor to recommended the use of the so called 'chrysohorto' (golden herb), which he believed gave the gold colour to the teeth of the mountain sheep, to his patients who had dental problems.


The shepherds of Nida reassure us that a plant called 'nevrida' (top of page) which the sheep eat, is responsible for this discolouration and say that the oldest of the flock actually have golden teeth, a sign of old age. Whereas the newborns lambs had white teeth, when they began to discolour and turn yellow then golden this was the time the shepherds knew to butcher them.


Researchers have now proved that 'nevrida' is the herb causing the sheep’s teeth to become gold in colour after some years. The scientific name of the plant is 'Polygonum Idaeum Hayek'. The herb is phosphorescent at night so its distinctive green colour is noticeable from a distance. Apart from the herb’s therapeutic use for decayed teeth and toothache it was also mashed and mixed with other herbs and placed on wounds. Also used as an analgesic as well as mixed with other ointments for dermatological use. Since antiquity there has been mention of other phosphorescent plants which have also been used for medicinal purposes, it is now thought that these are connected to the Cretan 'nevrida'.

The shepherds also believe that this plant helps the sheep produce more milk and feed it to the females that have just given birth. The sheep obviously like the taste of the stuff, they have been eating it for years and it can be seen covering all the mountain slopes until mid July.



More Phenomena pages
: Caves - Mountains - Gorges : Skinakas Observatory : Sheep with Golden Teeth : UFOs



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