The Speik plant: Kärnten’s secret tip for natural beauty

Among connoisseurs the Speik plant that grows in Kärnten’s Nockberge Mountains is a well-known natural remedy that helps to preserve beauty, health and enjoy recreation. Even Cleopatra knew of the healing effect of this alpine valerian plant and had it specially delivered to Egypt. Speick products provide great care and moisture dry and sensitive skin with rich and soothing ingredients.

Speick natural cosmetics – a family-run business

In 1928, Walter Rau began to produce soap and bathing oil using the Speik plant. Today, under management of his grandchildren, the Speick company markets a broad range at natural cosmetic products. One thing did, however, not change: Just like in former times, the plant is harvested by hand, whereby only two Kärnten’s alpine farmers from Saureggen hold the right to do so. “Speik harvest season” is between 15 August and 8 September. The Speik roots are hereby carefully loosened, only the plant is taken out. Approximately six kilos of Speik plants must be harvested to generate one kilo of dried Speik – a pocess that takes two days.

Why Speik and Speick are the same

Old medicinal listings contain the designation Speick spelled with “ck“, which is why also the traditional Speick business opted for this spelling. And only Speick natural cosmetics contain the exclusive Speik extract. All ingredients used in Speick cosmetics are won in controlled biological cultivation. This was honoured by the Stiftung Ökotest foundation with the ”sehr gut“ award.

Speik – gold of the Nockberge

With its spicy fragrance the valerian plant that exclusively grows in Kärnten’s Nockberge Mountains, is known to be soothing and stimulating at the same time. The history of the Speik plant and the knowledge of its healing and nurturing effect date back to 500 B.C. At that time, people were taking baths in tubs with Speik water; the small plant was used as perfume and balm and for treating the most diverse diseases. Probably thanks to the prominent client Cleopatra the trade with the unusual valerian plant flourished until 1936, when the Speik plant was placed under protection.

Myths surrounding the Speik plant

The valerian plant reaches heights between 5 to 15 centimetres and really is the business in the truest sense of the word. The alpine valerian plant, after all, contains valuable and sought ingredients that have turned it into the healing and fragrant plant it has become today. The characteristic fragrance is not generated by the blossoms, but rather stems from the roots. Skillful extraction leads to the ethereal pine oil, ingredients are various and to this day cannot be synthetically reproduced.

Speik has many health-promoting effects:

  • strengthens the stomach
  • anti-spasmodic
  • diuretic
  • strengthens heart and nerves
  • strengthens brain and muscles

In addition to that, it promises alleviation with toothaches and fever, helps against blackouts and swindle. In former times people even believed that when combined with vinegar it would counter tumors of the liver and jaundice. And even Mary Magdalene is said to have anointed Jesus with the Speik plant’s oil, which is why it used to be called Mary Magdalene flower.

Speik history

500 v. Chr. First documented trading in the Orient. Strange punishment in medieval times: When the so-called Speik arrest was applied, culprits had to spend time in the Speik barn and were consequently stigmatised by the intensive scent. This way, sinners were unable to hide their digressions over weeks.

1460 Frederick III awards the exclusive right to trade in the Speik plant in Austria to the town of Judenburg. The monopoly persisted for over 100 years.

1787 The Speik monopoly of the rulers and merchants expires, the Speik harvest is now merely subject to forestry regulations. Major transshipment points are Triest and Venice; the Italian cities at the sea handle tons of Speik every year. Hemmers transport Speik with horses across the mountains for centuries – villages and cities prosper by trading in Speik.

1936 With introduction of the new nature protection act in Austria the use of Speik isno longer permitted. Far into the 20th century, the dried plant is marketed in Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Morocco and the Sudan.

Additional information about Speik, Speik hiking tours, the Speik trail in the Nockberge Mountains and Speik in Bad Kleinkirchheim you will find here.

Walter Rau GmbH & Co. KG Speickwerk
Benzstraße 9, D-70771 Leinfelden-Echterdingen
Telefon: +49 711 16 13 0