Unusual herbs lend panache to the garden and kitchen. Jambu (also known as paracress) is just one of many singular herbal delicacies.
Wow – Paracress (Spilanthes oleracea) earns its name: as the pungency of its leaves and flowers gradually develops, it tingles and prickles the tongue strongly. But this cheeky plant has more than just a surprising taste to reveal. From between glossy, dark green leaves reach numerous yellow-red flower orbs. These boldly meet the observer’s gaze as if to say, “Well, do you dare try me?”
Those who like some kick and enjoy paracress will surely also like wasabi (Wasabi japonica). This root of Japanese Horseradish, when grated fresh or prepared as a spice paste, unleashes enormous heat, while its light green leaves are suited to more sensitive pallets. For regular use in the kitchen, holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) and hot lemon pepper (Capsicum baccatum ‘Lemon Drop’) are good choices.
Many well-known culinary plants include exciting varieties just waiting to be discovered. Marzipan and pineapple sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Nazareth,’ Salvia rutilans), orange and lemon thyme (Thymus fragrantissimus, T. citriodorus), or strawberry, apple, and banana mint (Mentha spec. ‘Strawberry,’ M. suaveolens, M. arvensis ‘Banana’) invite sampling and experimentation. Check out the assortment at your own local garden center.
A Tour of Discovery for Budding Gardeners
Children investigate the world using all their senses – so it’s no wonder that herbs are particularly interesting to them. Seeing, touching, smelling, tasting – four of the five senses come into play when leaves or flowers can be picked and sampled. Plants that recall other foods are especially fun. Pineapple flower (Cephalophora aromatica), for example, releases a mystifying scent of fruit when its yellow flower buttons are rubbed. Chocolate lovers can have their choice, comparing chocolate daisy (Berlandiera lyrata), chocolate cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus), and chocolate mint (Mentha x piperita ‘Chocolate’). And even adults will have a blast discovering varieties like cola plant (Artemisia abrotanum var. maritime), licorice-scented Irish lace marigold (Tagetes filifolia), or the richly scented figwort (Scrophularia chrysantha).