Dysphania ambrosioides (55 days) Tender perennial, grown as an annual. Native to Central America, epazote has fame as a culinary herb, most notably added to beans to deepen flavor and to mitigate flatulence. Flavor is safely described as pungent, and depending on your taste buds you might find it oregano-like, citrusy or tasting of creosote. The sharpness comes from a toxic component chemical that repels worms, hence its other common name Wormseed. Use prudently: a dish that calls for one sprig is not improved by two! Don’t feed it to children or pregnant women. Flavor does not stand up to long cooking times, so add it to the pot toward the end. To harvest, cut younger leaves from the center, as they are both milder and richer than older leaves. Fresh leaves are preferred to dried. Plants grow 2–4' tall. Can tolerate a bit of frost. Note: seeds will have calyxes. ①BACK!
About medicinal herbs: Archeological evidence dates the medicinal use of herbs back 60,000 years to the Neanderthals. 85% of the world’s population employ herbs as medicines, and 40% of pharmaceuticals in the U.S. contain plant-derived materials. Fewer than 10% of higher plant species have been investigated for their medicinal components. Interest in traditional herbal remedies continues to grow.
Statements about medicinal use of plants have not been evaluated by the FDA, and should not be used for the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any ailment. Before using or ingesting any medicinal plant, consult a healthcare practitioner familiar with botanical medicine.
Culture: Some herbs are customarily grown from divisions because they cannot come true from seed, such as scented thymes and flavored mints. Some require fall sowing of fresh seed, such as sweet cicely and angelica.
Using herbs: Drying herbs at home is not difficult. Whole leaves retain their flavor at least a year. To substitute fresh herbs for dried in cooking, use triple the dried quantity called for in a recipe.
For the latest results of our germination tests, please see the germination page.