BOTANICAL NAME: Artemisia drocunculus, A dracunculiases Asteraceae
Dracunculus is Latin fur "little dragon" and once tarragon was reputed to cure bites of not only diminutive dragons but also all serpents. Today its unique, delicious and piquant flavor is indispensable to the classic cuisine of France.
French tarragon's flavor diffuses rapidly through cooked dishes, so use it carefully.
Use it fresh with fish and shellfish, turkey, chicken, game, veal and egg dishes. Use chopped leaves in salad dressings, fines herbs, mustard, ravigote and bechamel sauces, sauce verte and mayonnaise.
Oil of tarragon is used in commercial salad dressings, beverages, confections, perfumes and mustards.
French tarragon is a selected form of exceptional flavor. It rarely sets seed, especially in cool climates, although it may produce tiny, greenish, ball shaped inflorescences. Its slender linear leaves are warmly aromatic, with a complex fragrance and taste that blends sweet anise, basil and resinous undertones.
Russian tarragon has regularly flowers and sets viable seeds. It often improves in flavor the longer it is grown, but seed grown Russian tarragon has an earthy balsamic scent Winter tarragon, or Mexican mint marigold or Mexican tarragon or sweet mace(fagots lucido). Is a true mimic of French tarragon. A half hardy perennial with finely toothed, linear, deep green aromatic leaves, it produces a lavish display of small, bright golden flowers, borne in clusters in autumn to 2.5 ft. 175 cm).
Position: Winter tarragon thrives in hot, humid climates. French tarragon is cold-hardy and drought resistant, and can grow in high summer temperatures. It is, however, very susceptible to high humidity and easily infected with fungal diseases. Avoid overhead watering.
Propagation: Propagate French tarragon by tip cuttings in spring and early autumn, or by root division.
Maintenance: Regularly thin plants of French tarragon by harvesting. Remove any diseased branches.
Pests and diseases: Tarragon is susceptible to nematodes (eel worms) and leaf fungal diseases, particularly rust.
Harvesting and storing: Harvest foliage until mid autumn.
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Part used: leaves. These days, tarragon is more likely to be used for culinary than therapeutic purposes. Tarragon contains an essential oil component that is reputed to have similar properties to that of anise, which is often used to treat digestive symptoms Russian tarragon has been used for stimulating the appetite.
In some countries, tarragon is traditionally used to treat the symptoms of diabetes; recent scientific research appears to support this. Preliminary studies in diabetic animals found that an alcoholic extract of French tarragon lowered the levels of both insulin and sugar in the blood. For the safe and appropriate medicinal use of tarragon, consult your health care professional. Do not use tarragon in greater than culinary quantities if you are pregnant or breast feeding.