Tarragon
9:38 AM | Author: Atie

Tarragon or dragon's-wort (Artemisia dracunculus L.) is a perennial herb in the family Asteraceae related to wormwood. Corresponding to its species name, a common term for the plant is "dragon herb." It is native to a wide area of the Northern Hemisphere from easternmost Europe across central and eastern Asia to India, western north America, and south to northern Mexico. The North American populations may however be naturalised from early human introduction.

Tarragon grows to 120-150 cm tall, with slender branched stems. The leaves are lanceolate, 2-8 cm long and 2-10 mm broad, glossy green, with an entire margin. The flowers are produced in small capitulate 2-4 mm diameter, each capitulum containing up to 40 yellow or greenish-yellow florets. (French tarragon, however, seldom produces flowers.)

The name Tarragon is a corruption of the French esdragon, derived from the Latin Dracunculus (a little dragon), which also serves as its specific name. Tarragon is a Eurasian herb in the Aster family, and its name can be pronounced either tehr uh gawn or tehr uh guhn.

Tarragon is native to Europe, Southern Russia and Western Asia. It's a perennial plant, with the best varieties coming from Europe. While both French and Russian tarragon is used in cooking, the French variation is preferred by most, since it exhibits superior flavour over its herbal counterpart. Strange as it may seem, both varieties of the herb originated in Russia, but French tarragon is much more popular, due to its slight liquorice flavouring, which is highly sought after in the culinary world.

Tarragon is the dried leaves of the herb Artemisia dracunculus and is a member of the Composite family, the same family to which daisies belong. It is widely used as a herb in cooking but also has a medicinal history of use. It's a perennial herb that has green leaves and flower heads and even though it's not a beautiful plant specimen, it's still a viable herb to grow in the home garden.

It's best grown in light, preferably sandy, free draining soil. Do not overwater as tarragon is susceptible to root rot in soggy soil. In the garden, it is a good companion to all plants. French tarragon is a hardy perennial and since it rarely sets seed it's best grown from tip cuttings of new growth, root cuttings or divisions taken in the spring or autumn. It's also best if harvested before it flowers.

Tarragon is more common in Continental than in English cookery, and has long been cultivated in France for culinary purposes.

It's grown for its aromatic leaves which are used in a variety of recipes, most notably in flavouring vinegar and is exceptional in egg dishes, poached fish, mushrooms and other vegetables. Tarragon is good with chicken and in salad dressings. It's also used to enhance the flavour of soups and can be chopped and sprinkled over omelets.

It has a flavour that resembles licorice. It's preserved in white vinegar and although tarragon is best when it's fresh, it can be dried or frozen for future use. Since most of its essential oil is lost in the drying process, you'll find that dry tarragon is a poor substitute for the fresh herb.

Tarragon is also a great substitute for salt and is part of the classic Fines herbs mixture along with chervil, parsley and thyme.

Its available fresh in the summer and early fall in the produce section of most supermarkets.

Tarragon is rich in Vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, and potassium, and has a mild anise flavour in its leaves.

Tarragon is also used in perfumes, soaps, and cosmetics, and in condiments and liqueurs.

Tarragon is a recognized herbal treatment for the following conditions and symptoms:

Toothache

Upset stomach

Loss of appetite

Intestinal Worms

Hyperactivity

Anti-Bacterial properties for cuts

Depression

Stimulates the appetite and digestive process

A mild sedative to aid sleep

A mild, non irritating diuretic that helps the system flush out toxins released from the digestion of meat and other proteins

Rheumatism and arthritis

With its mild menstruation-inducing properties, tarragon is also taken if periods are delayed.

Tea for calming benefits: To prepare tarragon tea, take one cup boiling water and pour over one tablespoon tarragon and let stand for ten minutes and then drink.

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