Mexican Tarragon grows best in zones 9-11. Mexican tarragon grows all spring and summer and produces many yellow, single marigold-like blossoms from August to September. Plants need full sun or partial shade and must have well-drained soil. These wildflowers are relatives of the common garden marigold, but the flowers are sparse- small yellow blooms with only five petals. Mexican Tarragons are a perennial growing up to 2ft 7in by 1ft 4in. The upright plants pair well with other fall bloomers such as pineapple sage. They grow easily and are drought tolerant, however, they will reach a fuller bloom if kept moist. If stems fall over and touch the ground, they will take root, causing plants to spread. Seeds should be sown in a greenhouse and germinate within 2 weeks. 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 will usually take 2- 3 weeks. Mexican tarragon is a great plant to attract butterflies, bees, and birds to the garden. The plant also repels many insects, possibly due to its relationship with marigolds. Compared to regular tarragon, the Mexican tarragon is much more hardy (1).
Culinary and Medicinal Uses
In Mexican cultures, the entire plant has been used for stomach aches, nausea and colic. It has also been taken for colds and fevers. The plant, also known as pericón, was also an important medicine in ancient Mexico, named after the water goddess Ayauh. It was thought of as treating the illnesses of the gods. Today, the flower petals are used to make teas that treat the common cold, intestinal gas and diarrhea (2). As an herb used in cooking, it provides complimentary savory flavors to egg and meat dishes.
Significance to Cultural Communities
It is believed that Mexican tarragon originates from Guatemala. The Aztecs grew Mexican Tarragon for culinary, medicinal, and ritual uses. It added a spicy flavor chocolatl, a drink made with cocoa from which we get the English word "chocolate." The plant has also been used as a talisman, rubbed on the chest to ensure safety when crossing a river. The Aztecs also burned Mexican Tarragon as incense, and the flowers were used decoratively in many religious ceremonies. It is still used today to ward off 'evil spirits' and in the corners of the cornfield before the harvest (3). In Aztec culture it was dedicated to the Tlaloc, the god of rain and lightning, and was therefore responsible for ‘wet’ illnesses like colds and rheumatism (1).
1. Michaels, Frances. “Mexican Tarragon Growing Information.” Green Harvest. http://www.greenharvest.com.au/SeedOrganic/HerbSeeds/MexicanTarragonGrowingInformation.html
2. Davidow, Joie, Infusions of Healing: A Treasury of Mexican-American Herbal Remedies (New York, NY: Fireside, 1999).