Common Name: Mexican Tarragon, Sweet Mace, Winter Tarragon, Cloud Plant, Sweet Marigold.
Latin Name: Tagetes lucida.
Description (what it looks like): An easy to grow herbaceous perennial. Grows to 70cm and produces a cluster of erect stems with linear leaves that are 4cm long and 1cm wide. The bright golden yellow flowers, 1cm across, occur in clusters of up to 15, at the top of the plant in summer. The flowers will continue into autumn if the dead flowers are continuously removed. The leaves have a distinct aniseed scent and flavour which is similar to French Tarragon but much stronger. Growth slows in winter and excels in summer.
Uses (function): Used as medicine by the Aztec people, for the ‘water’ illnesses of gout, cold, oedema and rheumatism. Helps relieve headaches and colds. A yellow dye can be obtained from the flowers. The dried plant is burnt as an incense and to repel insects. In a permaculture garden, it makes a great ground cover, attracts pollinators and provides food and medicine for the occupants.
Nutritional value: Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, and C.
Growing details (propagation, seed etc): Propogration is successful by either seed or division. Plant the seed to a depth of 3-5mm, spaced 30-45cm apart.
Best time to grow: Late spring, by seed or division.
Soil: Deep, fertile soil with a neutral pH of 6.6-7.3 and good drainage.
Sun: Full sun.
Water: Needs ample water in the dry, growing fast in the wet season.
How to eat it: Fresh or dried leaves are used for flavoring soups, sauces and dressings. Pleasant anise-flavored tea is brewed using the dried leaves and flower heads. Can be used sparingly as a substitute for French Tarragon in any recipe. It also makes a great herb vinegar for use in salad dressings. Fill a 2 litre glass bottle with a large quantity of leaves, cover with wine vinegar and leave for 3 weeks. Strain into glass bottles add a flowering sprig of Mexican Tarragon for garnish.
- The Incredible Edibles - A Tropical Superfoods Guide by Tonielle Christensen.
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