Tarragon Facts

Tarragon Facts
Tarragon is culinary herb that belongs to the family of daisies. It originates from Siberia, but it can be found in temperate parts of Europe, Asia and USA today. This plant is part of human diet at least few thousand years (ancient Greeks cultivated tarragon 500 years BC). Tarragon was introduced to France in the 15th century and it instantly became one of the most popular spices in that country. It grows on fertile, sandy soil in areas that provide enough sun. There are two basic types of tarragon: Russian and French tarragon. Russian tarragon has much weaker flavor compared to French tarragon, and it is rarely used as spice. Besides in human diet, tarragon is often used in folk medicine.
Interesting Tarragon Facts:
Tarragon is small shrub that produces numerous woody branches. It can reach 1 to 3 feet in height.
Tarragon has shiny, narrow, lanceolate leaves with smooth margins and pointed tips. Leaves are green in color.
Tarragon produces yellowish-green flower heads on top of the stems. Each flower head consists of up to 40 individual florets.
Tarragon blooms during the summer.
Unlike other plants, tarragon does not propagate via seed. Flowers of most tarragon species do not produce seed. Those that produce seed, usually produce sterile seed that are not able to germinate.
Tarragon propagates via root cuttings, rhizome sprouts and stem division.
Leaves of tarragon have sharp, peppery, anise-like flavor. They are rich source of vitamins A and C and minerals such as iodine, calcium, manganese and iron.
Tarragon can be consumed fresh or dried. Fresh leaves are usually harvested during the spring and summer. They are commonly used as ingredient of salads, sauces, marinades and dishes made of eggs, cheese, chicken and fish.
Tarragon is an integral part of dijon mustard.
Tarragon is also used for the manufacture of tarragon vinegar.
Young stems of Russian tarragon can be cooked and consumed as asparagus.
Name "tarragon" originates from Persian word "turkhum" which means "little dragon". Name refers to intense flavor of this plant and its root system that has snake-like shape. Tarragon is also known as "dragon wort" today.
Tarragon was used in treatment of scurvy (disorder induced by vitamin C deficiency) in the past. Compounds isolated from tarragon have mildly anesthetic and sedative properties. Tea made of tarragon is used in treatment of insomnia and hyperactivity (it has calming effects). Tarragon is also used to increase appetite, to facilitate digestion and relieve the pain associated with rheumatism and arthritis.
Eugenol is substance obtained from tarragon. It has anesthetic (induces anesthesia) and antiseptic (prevents growth of microorganisms) properties that are widely used in dentistry.
Tarragon is perennial plant, which means that it can survive more than 2 years in the wild.

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