Tag Archives: medicinal herb

Mexican Mint Marigold

Almost Halloween and my Mexican Mint Marigold (Tagetes lucida) plants are blooming profusely. The orange flowers are perfect for the season. My plants are not very tall and bushy but I know they can grow to several feet tall and wide. Native to Mexico and Central America, this marigold is a useful herb and a pretty garden plant. The foliage can be used as a tea for treating colds, fevers, intestinal gas, and diarrhea. The foliage also is used in an Aztec hot cocoa drink called chocolatl or xocolatl, along with vanilla, chiles, and ground cacao bean. And the foliage can be used as a tarragon substitute. The leaves have that anise/tarragon flavor, and the plant is much easier to grow than tarragon. The edible flowers can add interest and flavor to meals and garnish desserts. The petals can be sprinkled like confetti on green beans for contrast or a plate of mushroom stuffed appetizers.

This may be hard to find as a plant at the local nursery, but Mexican Mint Marigold is easy to grow from seed. Just make sure you are getting the correct species. I have seen some seed companies sell Tagetes tenuifolia as the Mexican Mint Marigold but that is a different type of marigold. Also, this plant has many common names so make sure you are purchasing Tagetes lucida.

I started mine plants from Botanical Interests seed packets in June. Later in the summer, I transplanted many plants (they germinated easily) to several areas in the garden. It was touch and go when we did not have rain for a long time, but I kept them well watered. They are in full sun and are not particular about soil except that it should be well-drained. These are fall bloomers so do not expect flowers until late September and October. Pollinators, beneficial insects, and butterflies love them.

Unfortunately, these herbaceous plants are tender perennials, hardy to zone 8. I don’t expect them to come back next year in my Zone 7 garden, but I like them so much I will start them again from seed. Next year though I may start them earlier in May after the last frost.

The flowers can be cut for floral arrangements. Recently, I learned how to make small arrangements in carved out pumpkins at my garden club. After growing Mexican Mint Marigold, I can see how these small orange flowers would be perfect for the desktop pumpkins. Try growing this next year, you will be pleasantly surprised!

Salad Burnet: Lovely Medicinal, Culinary, and Decorative Herb

Salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor) is a medicinal and culinary herb and a beautiful ornamental plant. It is one of those pretty yet useful herbs in the garden. An herbaceous perennial, this relatively small plant grows to about a foot wide and one-half foot tall. It stays green above ground for quite a long time, dies back in the winter, and re-appears in the spring. The plant grows in a clump, in a rosette formation. The small summer flowers are very small on wiry stems — barely noticeable.

As a medicinal herb, salad burnet has astringent qualities and staunches bleeding. As a culinary herb, the young foliage is tastiest so pick from the center of the rosette and use leaves in a green salad, egg salad, herbal vinegar, butter, cheese spread, or as “lettuce” with sandwiches. The foliage can be added to lemonade and is a popular garnish for gin and tonic cocktails. It has a clean green flavor, much like cucumbers.

The foliage has a delicate, lacy appearance which makes it a great garnish. When my daughter and I made a charcuterie board for Thanksgiving, we decorated the board with stems. We also used the green lacy leaves as a contrast to red cranberries and white mashed potatoes.charcuterie board

I have been growing salad burnet for years, but not necessarily the same one. It does self-seed a little, just enough for babies to show up in odd places. I dig them up and put them where I know they will thrive. Over the years, I have learned that salad burnet prefers moist areas, in full or partial sun, depending on the amount of soil moisture. I now have a plant growing next to my cutting celery and lovage, all of which are moisture lovers.

You are not likely to find the plant in local nurseries, but you can purchase seed from online seed companies. Start seed indoors in the spring, under lights, much like starting tomato seeds. You can direct sow in the summer, but my birds always steal my seed before they germinate. Or if you have a friend who has salad burnet growing in the garden, ask for a division in the spring. Try growing salad burnet in your garden or in a container.