Baxter County Master Gardener Program • University of Arkansas System • Division of Agriculture • © 2013 BCMG
Every year the International Herb Association chooses an 'Herb of the Year." This year's selection is the genus Artemisia. This diverse herb family contains many different plants, from the highly decorative Artemisia ludoviciana 'Silver King' to the delicious and tender French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus 'Sativa'). You may know an Artemisia by the name Sweet Annie, Mugwort, Wormwood, Tarragon, Southerwood or Sagebrush. Artemisia has a long history, and has been used to heal, create tasty beverages and even decorate our homes.
Many Artemsias have silvery foliage that is fern-like, but the foliage and form of Artemisias vary widely. Some have dark green narrow leaves, while others have broad leaves. The shape and form of Artemisia vary from small rounded bushes, to low sprawling mats, with many variations in between. There are even species that form small trees.
Artemisia dracunculus 'Sativa', commonly known as French tarragon, is a perennial herb with long, light green leaves and tiny greenish or yellowish white flowers. French tarragon is a culinary herb that has a sweet anise flavor, and it can be used in salads, sauces and to top soups. It's also great paired with shellfish, fish, chicken and turkey. For the traditional Bearnaise sauce it's an essential ingredient.
Sun: Full Sun to Part Sun
Soil type: Sandy, Loamy
If you are purchasing the plant be aware that Russian tarragon (Artemisia dracunculoides) is very closely related to French tarragon but has no anise flavor at all. Sometimes they are mislabeled so ask to taste a leaf to make sure you are getting French tarragon. There is also a Mexican tarragon, which is not in the same family as the French or Russian. It's a marigold (Tagetes lucida), grown as an annual. The leaves have similar oils to those of French tarragon and can be used as a culinary stand-in for French tarragon. When purchasing tarragon, make sure the plants in 4 inch pots have at least three green shoots, and buy them in the spring to plant in your garden before the summer heat sets in.
Submitted by: Tamara Carl
Edited by Joan Burr
International Herb Association (www.iherb.org)
Examiner.com Artemisia Herb of the Year
This classic herb provides delicate flavor with minimal effort by Andrew Yeoman Fine Gardening
Old farmers Almanac