By Jean-Dominique Dalloz - Photos DR / L'Occitane - June 4, 2012
This wild variety of juniper is one of the characteristic plants of the Mediterranean and Corsican scrublands. Well known to the shepherds of Upper Provence, the shrub has never skimped on beneficial effects. In particular, an essential oil is extracted to compose very effective skincare products.
“Nature and the outdoors are my whole life! I’m more often outside, running up and down country tracks or in the woods, than in my house.” Jean-Louis Delfour, a young man of 65 summers, wears a broad smile below two eyes that laugh just as easily. Always busy, he’s an experienced gatherer, a connoisseur of aromatic and medicinal plants. An expert who, at the beginning of spring, crisscrosses the Bléone Valley in the Alps of Upper Provence looking for Cade, this little tree well known to shepherds: “in the old days, they cut the branches to make fires with,” explains Jean-Louis, “this kept the mosquitos and other undesirable insects at bay. With the thick sap that dripped
from the heated wood, they also made an oil to protect their faces from the wind and the sun.”
Experts in old Provençal recipes also know that you can make delicious savory tarts with the berries. So this shrub, that makes do with an arid and chalky soil, is generous. Under the greyish bark, this modest little plant also conceals a very hard wood that for a long time was prized for building doors or statuaries. “When I was a kid”, remembers Jean-Louis Delfour, “my father used this wood in his cutlery workshop in Thiers. Today, when I cut Cade trunks, the odor takes me back to my childhood spent in the Upper Loire region”.
So each year, from the end of February, the tireless gatherer cuts down a great many trees, helping to control their very rapid growth: “I make bundles that I come back for after a few days of pruning. The trunks are then cut up into shavings and distilled to obtain essential oil of Cade”. If in the past we used stone kilns to extract the oil, today modern and specialized distilling techniques are employed.
In this way, we produce an organic oil, certified by Ecocert, from which L’OCCITANE produces complex cosmetics that are gentle and nourishing for the skin. A range that responds well to male skin, in the form of balms, shower gels or shaving creams. Thanks to Cade, there’s no longer any excuse not to get outside, gentlemen!
© Dmitry Naumov - Fotolia.com