by Barbara Porsch Permian Basin Master Gardener Herb Enthusiast
Mexican Mint Marigold is a crazy name for this delightful herb. Texas Tarragon or Sweet Marigold are both better suited to Tagetes lucida which has no relationship whatever to mint.
If you purchased this plant at our plant sale earlier this year, you should be anticipating the colorful golden flowers soon. The dark shiny lance shaped leaves have the fragrance of anise hence the title of Texas Tarragon since the real French Tarragon is a little finicky to grow in this hot climate.
Sweet Marigold reseeds easily and cuttings will root in water. Last winter mine died to the ground and I just left the dead on the top, putting off pulling it up. It is a good thing, because this spring it just sprouted up and took off gangbusters.
The anise flavor is stronger than French Tarragon, so you might use caution the first time you use it. Fresh in the summer is always better although it dried easily. Just cut off a few branches, tie them up and hang on a nail. When it is totally dry you can put it in a jar.
You can add a sprig or two when pickling beets. Toss some in with carrots that have been sautéed in butter. Put leaves and garlic under the skin of chicken when roasting. Make butter blends with it, adding orange zest and green onions. In the fall, hot apple cider is especially welcoming, so add a sprig or two to the simmering cider and garnish with a blossom. The blooms are edible and can be added to salads or pasta dishes. You can make tea with the leaves or add it to fruit punch or sangria.
Legend has it that a strong tea made with the leaves was used by the Aztecs to dull the senses of sacrificial victims. But I doubt that we would feel like a victim when experiencing some delicious food flavored with Mexican Mint Marigold….whatever we choose to call it.
For more information about growing edibles in your garden, contact Texas A&M AgriLife at 432-498-4071 or 432-686-4700. For more information about Permian Basin Master Gardener presentations or how to become a Permian Basin Master Gardener, please contact the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Horticulture Agent Jeff Floyd at firstname.lastname@example.org.