Tarragon
Artemisia dracunculus L.
Family: Asteraceae, Aster
Genus: Artemisia
Synonyms:
Other names: dragon wormwood, mugwort
Nomenclature: dracunculus = small dragon
Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant
Edible plant
Medicinal plant
Description

General: 50-150 cm tall, odorous or odorless, branching. Growth habit: erect perennial with several stems from a stout rhizome. Stems: leafy, hairless or sometimes with short, wavy hairs.

Leaves: alternate, lance-shaped to linear, toothless, hairless, mostly 3-8 cm long and 2-10 mm wide, entire or a few of them cleft, the lower generally falling off, numerous on branches and up in the flower clusters.

Flowerheads: yellowish, 2-4 mm wide, with disc florets only, numerous growing in narrow, elongated, compound clusters. Bracts are green, hairless. Involucre 2-4 mm high, outer flowers female and fertile, inner disk flowers sterile. July-October.

Fruits: achenes, hairless with no pappus.


Distribution

Open, often rather dry places, from the plains to moderate elevations in the mountains in w. and c. parts of MT. Also from Yukon and BC to CA, e. to IL, s. to TX and NM.
Edible Uses

The anise-flavored leaves and flowering tops of tarragon are used to season salads, sauces, soups, stews, eggs, meat, fish, and pickles. Leaves or essential oil are also used in the manufacture of tarragon vinegar, mustard, tartar sauce, and liqueurs. Tarragon may act as an antioxidant in some foods. Tarragon is generally recognized as safe for human consumption as a natural seasoning/flavoring and as a plant extract or essential oil. The green, aromatic leaves and succulent stems may be used fresh or dried for flavoring salads, vinegar, meats, etc.



Medicinal Uses

The root of tarragon was a folk remedy for curing toothaches.


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