Wild herbs – Terrific Tasty Tarragon

wild tarragon

Believe it or not, there isn’t much difference between wild tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) and the tarragon you can buy in the store. The store-bought variety is simply a specific cultivar, most often French tarragon. The fact is that all cultivars can be used in the same way and wild tarragon is a plant that grows wild through most of North America, Europe and Asia. It is occasionally called dragon wormwood because of its scientific name; dracunulus, meaning dragon.

Wild tarragon in general

This wild herb is found in places that get dry and that drain well, but which also get plenty of sunshine. In Montana, it is found from the lowlands of about 3,000 feet to mountainous country that is in excess of 5,000 feet. Tarragon is a perennial, bushy and hardy member of the sunflower family. Because of its hardiness, it is found from the Yukon in Canada to Southern California and east through Texas. It also grows in the midwest states.

The plants are variable in size, from barely over a foot tall to about six feet in height. The leaves can get about three inches long but are quite narrow. On smaller plants, they don’t reach this length. The flowers are also tiny, seldom as broad as a fifth of an inch, most often dull yellow to yellowish-green. These produce a lot of seeds, but in some species, the seeds are infertile.

Wild tarragon grows up from a rhyzomous root, rather like those of crabgrass. It can be grown from clippings of the rhizome.

Wild tarragon edibility

This is a wild herb often considered to be aromatic. It has an aroma that is similar to that of anise. Though not all cultivars are aromatic, they can still be used primarily for flavoring. The herb is used in French cooking, especially as flavoring for eggs, chicken and sauces and it is one of the herbs that add flavor to ‘fines herbes‘. It is also used in Russian cooking, Armenian, Ukrainian and Iranian cooking. It is a flavoring for fish, soups, stews, red meat, sauces, eggs, chicken and pickles. It is extremely good in omelets. It is also good in green salads, fresh.

Additionally, it makes a wonderful flavored vinegar. To make this, clip several of the plant tops and put them in a jar, then cover them with distilled vinegar and cap the jar. After a week or two, you will have tarragon vinegar, which is quite good on salads and on steamed, dark green vegetables, such as spinach or chard.

Wild tarragon medicinally

Tarragon has long been used for treating toothaches, just as anise has been. For this, a strong tea can be made from the roots or an essential oil can be used. The plant increases appetite and it is used to lower blood-sugar levels, which makes it useful for diabetics. For this purpose, it is normally used fresh and it is the leaves and stems that are used. Tarragon is also antioxidant and works as a blood thinner for people who are suffering from clogged arteries and poor circulation. The tea has been used to help insomniacs to sleep.

Wild tarragon is also extremely high in vitamins C, A, B, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese and zinc. It is low in sodium.

Some cultivars of tarragon are stronger than others; in flavor, aroma and medicinal value, with French tarragon having among the strongest, but these values exist in all varieties. It has a very large range and now grows throughout much of the world, wild. This makes it easy to find, harvest and use. It also grows well in a garden and in pots.

I’ve been able to find and use some of this wild edible herb when out camping. Since most of my camping trips are also fishing trips, and since tarragon goes well as a seasoning for fish, you can believe that such a discovery is utilized.




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