Herbal internship in the French Drome | Maurice Godefridi

Herbal internship in the French Drome

Spice walk at Cornillon

A small herbal walk at Cornillon sur l'Oule. We leave, as usual, in the parking lot in the village of Cornillon itself. The public toilets that are there can already be used for preventive purposes. You turn the short street towards chapel or church and then directly to the right and straight down into the romantic footpath.

Between hedges and hedges, we already find a plant classic for this kind of biotopes, the Stinky ballote, a gloomy lip-flowery with modest flower, dark green leaves and stale, soot smell, which still likes to grow in the shadow of hollow roads. So really a depri-plant, it is used as a sedative.

Marnes Noires

From the romantic shadow we walk to the light and warmth of the open slope. First, along the eroded gravel of the Marnes Noires, gray-black finely ground slate, where only the strong grass Achnaterum calamagrostis and some beautiful umberflowers with deep pinroots can grow. We now look at the 'plan d'eau' below us, an originally natural lake in the dam of the river Oule and then further finished into a swimming and plodder spot for tourists. Now, in May, there is fortunately no tourist to be seen yet. We, 6 nature tourists have the realm to us alone.

Gorges de l'Oule

You walk on this easy and beautiful path to the beginning of the gorge, where the Oule has made a way behind the rock of Cornillon. But first we admire some heat-loving plants on this sun-bathing slope. The classics again, Real lavender in community with Real Thyme, Gamander and also some pollen Teucrium polium. Yes, some plants, which do not exist in Belgium, do not of course have a Dutch name. Also that thyme species is special, he is spoken to with Thymus vulgaris but it is a so-called chemotype with the substance linalol, that is, it smells different than the garden thyme from us, more sweet lemon instead of sharp resinous (thymol). Even his appearance is different, rather gray and small-leaved.

At the entrance of the gorge is a small beach, our secret sun- and poodle spot. You look through the gorge, which can also be walked, partly through the water of the Oule, but we will not do that today: too cold and too high water, no adventurous people and we also come earlier for the plants and we do not find them in the water. Although in the rocks halfway the gorge grows the mythical Venus Hair. Adiantum capillus veneris, even this seductive, cannot lure us into the water. We can also pass a misty waterfall all the way to a hidden cave, but that is not possible today.

Thyme and others

So we walk back towards Plan d'eau, first past a small water treatment plant and along the Oule. Here, in the gravel, we find many biennial rosettes, such as Torch, Snake Herbs, Reseda's, but also many flowering thyme, and not only the chemotype linalol but also some pollets with thymol. Surely especially just in the same biotope. Plants in evolution.

We pick some flowering thyme to make syrup out of it later. It is now also the time for this species of thyme to be harvested in the wild and in culture to distil essential oil from it. Only with the wet and cold weather of the last days will it be for the next few weeks.

We'll have a picnic on a real table and bench by the lake. Wiske keeps moving, she can hardly sit still and so we find some other plants on the trail. In a small swamp part she finds Lidrus, not a real Russian and not a member of the Russian, but another, moist growing Equisetum species.

Plan d"eau

Satisfied we walk along the Plan d'eau, which is now freely accessible but where pay in the summer. Along the path I describe here you will also get to it for free in the summer, although that is not the intention and requires some effort.

We now arrive on the paved road near the iron bridge towards the car. We still find some ordinary and unusual plants along the road. To begin with, many flowering quince bushes with undervegetation of Flute Wort and in the growths Yellow horn poppy. The quince is one of the classic fruits, which used to be cultivated here a lot, and which now appears mainly feral. It is the story of many fruit trees, mulberry, quince and lime blossom, which do not yield enough and now live an alternative life. There is still something made with it but rather exclusive, as curiosity and for the tourist.

Another 1,000 meters along the way up and we're back at the motorhome. Just before there's another rain shower. Names of plants still sound in our heads. Do we ever dream of Horn Poppy, Lidrus and Maenhaar?

Info Cornillon-sur-l'Oule,

municipality in the Drôme (Rhône-Alpes), has about 70 inhabitants. Located between La Motte-Chalacon and Rémuzat. The village is located at 560 meters altitude, but you can also walk to the top of the mountain, to the ruins of the castle and enjoy the special view over the valley and feel equally ruler of the region.

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