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Fungus Rock

Fungus Rock, which is colloquially known in Maltese as 'Il-Ġebla tal-Ġeneral' (the General's Rock), is a small islet in the form of a 60 metres high massive lump of limestone at the entrance to an almost circular black lagoon in Dwejra, on the coast of Gozo, itself an island in the Maltese archipelago. Fungus Rock is located at 36°02′45″N 14°11′27″E and falls within the jurisdiction of the town of St. Lawrence.

The Knights Hospitaller apparently discovered what is popularly known as the Malta Fungus, growing on the rock's flat top. This plant, which is a kind of parasitic flowering plant, not a fungus, has a repulsive smell. Doctors at the time believed that it had medicinal properties. The Knights used it as a styptic dressing for wounds and a cure for dysentery. The Knights so prized it that they often gave gifts of Malta Fungus to distinguished noblemen and visitors to the Maltese islands.

Grand Master Pinto decreed the Rock out of bounds in 1746; trespassers risked a three-year spell as oarsmen in the Knights' galleys. He posted a permanent guard there and even built a precarious cable-car basket from the rock to the mainland, 50 metres away. He also ordered the sides smoothed to remove handholds.

Pinto's efforts were perhaps unnecessary. Pharmacologists are studying the medical effects of "Fucus coccineus melitensis" today.

Nowadays, Fungus Rock is a nature reserve. However, the shoreline nearby is accessible to bathers and the sea provides perfect snorkeling.

(Wikipedia)
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