The Raskovnik is a magical herb found in the South Slavic countries such as Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Montenegro. It’s described as a grass with the likeness of a four-leaf clover. It can be found in meadows, and should be picked while green and blooming, or when growing in hay when it is dry. While it is not a rare plant, and not confined to certain locations, it is said that it is impossible to find by the uninitiated. According to folklore, the raskovnik possesses the power to unlock any gate or padlock regardless of size, material, or key. It is also known to split the ground in place so a treasure can be revealed.
In Bulgarian mythology, tortoises were the only beings who could identify the herb and its’ growing location. Often people would try to obtain it by deceiving a tortoise into finding it for them. They would located a tortoise nesting site, and construct a fence around it. When the tortoise returned, unable to access its eggs, it would locat a raskovnik to breach the fence. By doing so, the tortoise would reveal the location of the herbs and the seekers would acquire it. While tricking a tortoise is a popular method, in Croatia the legends references snakes, and in Serbia, the legend references locking young hedgehogs in a box for their mother to open. In South Slavic tradition, turtles, hedgehogs, and snakes are animals with chthonic characteristics and considered to be associated with the underworld.
In Serbian mythology, locating a raskovnik would have to be done in a relatively timely manner as the hedgehog would consume it after use. Another method popular in Serbia, refers to a story from Zemun which features a merchant who desired to located the herb. He locked an old woman in leg irons and let her wander through a field at night. When the irons unlocked themselves at a certain location, it would reveal the exact place where the raskovnik grows.
Due to its alchemical abilities, and general potential to grant the one who picked it a healthy and wealthy life, the raskovnik has also been sought out by treasure hunters, sorcerers, magicians, and herbalists who wanted to acquire its magic powers for personal gain. In Serbia, the Treasure of Tsar Radovan could not be unlocked unless a raskovnik was used.