Herb: Mexican Tarragon
Latin name: Tagetes lucida
Medicinal use of Mexican Tarragon:The leaves and whole plant are digestive, diuretic, febrifuge, hypotensive, narcotic, sedative and stimulant. Use of the plant depresses the central nervous system, whilst it is also reputedly anaesthetic and hallucinogenic. It is used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, nausea, indigestion, colic, hiccups, malaria and feverish illnesses. Externally, it is used to treat scorpion bites and to remove ticks. The leaves can be harvested and used as required, whilst the whole plant is harvested when in flower and dried for later use.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Woods, hillsides and rocky slopes.
Edible parts of Mexican Tarragon:The leaves are dried and ground into a powder then used as a tarragon substitute for flavouring soups, sauces etc. They have an anise-like flavour. The leaves were an important flavouring of "chocolatl", the foaming cocoa-based drink of the Aztecs. The dried leaves and flowering tops are brewed into a pleasant anise-flavoured tea. This is a very popular drink in Latin America. The petals are used as a condiment.
Other uses of the herb:Secretions from the roots of growing plants have an insecticidal effect on the soil, effective against nematodes and to some extent against keeled slugs, they also have an effect against some persistent weeds such as couch grass. These secretions are produced about 3 - 4 months after sowing. The growing plant also has a repellent effect on various insect pests such as the asparagus beetle and bean weevils. A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers. The dried plant is burnt as an incense and to repel insects.
Propagation of Mexican Tarragon:Seed - sow March in a greenhouse. Only just cover the seed. Germination usually takes place within 2 weeks. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out after the last expected frosts. Basal cuttings in spring. Remove young shoots when about 5 - 10 cm tall, making sure to get as much of the underground stem as possible. Pot up into a sandy soil and keep in light shade until roots are formed, which usually takes 2- 3 weeks.
Cultivation of the herb:Woods, hillsides and rocky slopes.
Known hazards of Tagetes lucida:None known
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.