Mexican Tarragon (Tagetes lucida)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Mexican Tarragon
Tagetes lucida
Compositae

Secretions from the roots of growing plants have an insecticidal effect on the soil, effective against nematodes and to some extent against keeled slugs[200], they also have an effect against some persistent weeds such as couch grass[14]. These secretions are produced about 3 – 4 months after sowing[200]. The growing plant also has a repellent effect on various insect pests such as the asparagus beetle and bean weevils[14, 20].

A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers[169].

The dried plant is burnt as an incense and to repel insects[238].

  • Medicinal Use

    The leaves and whole plant are digestive, diuretic, febrifuge, hypotensive, narcotic, sedative and stimulant[160, 192, 200, 238]. Use of the plant depresses the central nervous system, whilst it is also reputedly anaesthetic and hallucinogenic[238]. It is used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, nausea, indigestion, colic, hiccups, malaria and feverish illnesses[238]. Externally, it is used to treat scorpion bites and to remove ticks[238]. The leaves can be harvested and used as required, whilst the whole plant is harvested when in flower and dried for later use[238].

  • Edible Use

    The leaves are dried and ground into a powder then used as a tarragon substitute for flavouring soups, sauces etc[2, 27, 160, 183]. They have an anise-like flavour[238, K]. The leaves were an important flavouring of ‘chocolatl’, the foaming cocoa-based drink of the Aztecs[238].

    The dried leaves and flowering tops are brewed into a pleasant anise-flavoured tea[183]. This is a very popular drink in Latin America[238].

    The petals are used as a condiment[61].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

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.
Requires a well-drained moderately fertile soil in a sunny position[200]. Grows well in heavy clay soils and in sandy soils[188]. Plants in general are not very cold-hardy when grown outdoors in Britain, though some forms will survive outdoors at least in the milder areas of the country. We have plants grown from seed collected in Oregon that have proved hardy to at least -5¡c[K]. A very ornamental plant, there are some named varieties. ‘Huichol’ is a traditional clone used by the Huichol Indians that grows at an elevation of 1500 – 1800m in Mexico[183]. The blooms are amongst the most sweetly-scented of all flowers[245]. Removing dead flowers before the seed is formed will extend the flowering season[188]. Plants are prone to slugs, snails and botrytis[188]. Grows well with tomatoes[20].
C. and S. America – Mexico to Guatemala.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.