Tropical Coriander

Tropical Coriander


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Common Name:  Tropical Coriander, Sawtooth Coriander, Mexican Coriander, Thai Coriander, Cilantro, Pointed Cilantro, Cilentro, Culantro, Thorny Coriander, Ngo Gai, Long Leaf Coriander, Phak Chee Farang.

Latin Name:  Eryngium foetidum.

Origin:  Mexico.

Description (what it looks like):  A low growing, biennial (2 year lifespan) herb with a rosette growth pattern, around 30-40cm high.  Treat it as an annual in cooler areas.  The leaves are stiff, oblong and deeply toothed.  This ornamental herb has thick roots and waxy leaves with spiky blue flower heads that produce seeds, if left to mature.

Uses (function):  Traditional medicine values tropical coriander for burns, earache, fevers, hypertension, constipation, fits, asthma, stomach ache, worms, infertility complications, snake bites, diarrhea, and malaria.   The flower heads are attractive to insects such as lacewings, ladybugs and butterflies.  Grows well in containers, even on a windowsill provided there is adequate sunlight.  Good edging plant along pathways.

Nutritional value:  Contains calcium, iron, carotene, and riboflavin.

Growing details (propagation, seed etc):  Propagated by seed, sprinkled on top of the soil.  Keep 30cm spacings.  Let the plant flower, cut off the stem, collect seeds, then nip out the first signs of a flower reappearing on the parent plant to encourage leaf growth.  After flowering, the base of the plant tends to become yellow and tougher in texture.

Best time to grow:  Direct sow outdoors as summer rains approach.  Tolerates hot, steamy, humid weather.

Soil:  Has a high tolerance for salt and drought, even though it likes moist soil.

Sun:  Partial sun to dappled sun.

Water:  Keep moist.  Thrives with plenty of water.

How to eat it:  Widely used for seasoning and marinating.  Leaves used fresh or dried in curries, tossed salads, soups, sauces, chutneys, dips and salsas.  Pairs well with fish.  Dries well, retaining good color and flavour.  It is sometimes used as a substitute for cilantro (Coriander in British English), but it has a much stronger taste, so use less than the recipe.

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