Two great herbs for Austin

This past spring I planted a small herb and ornamental garden in my front yard.  Since I live in Austin with its periodic droughts and water restrictions, I look for plants that thrive without a lot of supplemental watering.  Two herbs that did well for me were Mexican Mint Marigold and Mexican Oregano.

Mexican Oregano Leaves

Mexican Oregano

Two distinct species, Lippia graveolens and Poliomintha longiflora, take the common name Mexican Oregano.  I planted the former in my garden.  When I planted the mix of aloes, Salvia greggis and herbs, I knew that I would eventually have to move a few of the plants to give them more space, but I expected them to be slow growing in our droughty summers.  The Mexican Oregano surprised me and shot up quickly to three feet tall.

Mexican Oregano Flower

Lippia graveolens in flower

I love the flavor that the Mexican Oregano gives to black beans.  When the herb is fresh, I add a whole sprig or two to a pot of beans and just pull out the stems when the beans have finished cooking.

Mexican Mint Marigold, Tagetes lucida, is sometimes referred to as Mexican Tarragon or Texas Tarragon.  I think one of its names in Spanish, Hierbanís, is much more accurate as the leaves have a strong anise flavor.

Mexican Mint Marigold Flowers

Mexican Mint Marigold

The tea that I made from fresh leaves has a mellow, agreeable flavor, but with a noticeable ‘leafy’ odor.  According to Medicinal Plants of Mexico by Edelmira Linares et al the crushed leaves can also be used to flavor corn on the cob.  Inspired by this suggestion, I experimented with some tempeh:

Slice ½ package tempeh into ‘fingers’.  Sauté tempeh in olive oil until it gets crispy on all sides.  Add one TBS crushed or chopped Mexican Mint Marigold leaves and salt to taste.  Continue sautéing another minute or two until leaves get crispy.

The above dish made for an enjoyable mid-morning snack.  I think that next time I will try blending another herb or two along with the Mint Marigold.

Mexican Mint Marigold with Visitor

I am not the only one who enjoys this flower.

Comments are closed.