By Rickie Wilson, Guest Blogger
If you like black licorice, consider Mexican tarragon Tagetes lucida. Also known as Mexican marigold, Mexican mint marigold, sweet mace, Texas tarragon, Spanish tarragon, sweet-scented marigold, pericon, yerbaniz and hierbanis, the herb is native to Central America and Mexico. Some say it officially started in Guatemala. It eventually became popular in North America as a substitute for French tarragon.
The plant grows from 18- to 30-inches tall. Leaves are about three inches and oblong in shape. Unlike the blue-green hue of French tarragon, Artemisia dracunculus var. sativa, Mexican tarragon is shiny and medium-green. Small, yellow-golden flower heads, about ½-inch wide each, appear toward the end of summer. The flowers must be pollinated by insects as they are hermaphroditic (containing both female and male organs). This is a much hardier plant than French or regular tarragon.
Medicinal use of the herb is popular in Mexican cultures. The entire plant is used to heal colic, stomachaches and nausea. It is commonly used today as a tea, made from flower petals, to treat diarrhea, gas and the common cold.
Mexican tarragon is used as a culinary addition to meat and egg dishes.
The Aztecs used this herb for medicine, cooking, and rituals. They rubbed it on the chest, as a talisman, to ensure they would be safe while crossing rivers. The plant was burned as incense by the Aztecs and used as decoration for religious ceremonies. Mexican tarragon is still used today in the corners of corn fields right before the harvest. It is also still used to ward off evil spirits!
This herb is linked to the Aztec rain god Tlaloc. It is said that Mexican tarragon was one of the ingredients used to make a medicinal powder. This powder was blown into the face of victims who were about to be sacrificed. It was believed to have a stupefying or anxiety relieving effect.
For more information, recipes and digital wallpaper, check out The Herb Society of America’s information on Herbs of the Month.
It is the policy of The Herb Society of America not to advise or recommend herbs for medicinal or health use. This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered as a recommendation or an endorsement of any particular medical or health treatment.