Quick Fact Sheets

Quick Facts

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  • Angelicas are biennials or short-lived perennials belonging to the Apiaceae (parsley family) , and are related to carrot, parsley, and the aromatic seed plants dill, caraway, cumin, anise and fennel.

  • Pimpinella anisum (anise, aniseed)
    Pimpinella anisum is an annual belonging to the family Apiaceae; it is related to other plants prized for their aromatic fruits, commonly called seeds, such as dill, cumin, caraway and fennel.

  • Artemisias belong to the Asteraceae, a family of plants which also includes asters and daisies; however, Artemisia flowers, though typical, are usually quite small. There are over 300 species in the genus, distinguished by the silkiness and divisions of their leaves and the arrangements of their flowers. With the exception of several species in tropical environs, the genus originated in and mostly belongs to the drier climes of the Northern Hemisphere (Watson, p. 4).

  • Basils belong to the Lamiaceae (formerly Labiatae) or mint family. They have the square stems, two-lipped flowers, opposite leaves, and abundant fragrance bearing oil glands typical of many members of the mint family.

  • Sweet bay, or bay laurel is an evergreen tree which may grow to 40 feet in its native Mediterranean regions, though in Zones 8-10 in the U.S., it can grow from 6 to 25 feet if protected from winter winds.

  • Caraway is a biennial of the family Apiaceae (formerly called the Umbelliferae for the typical umbrella shaped flower head), and is related to dill, cumin, fennel and anise which also produce aromatic fruits, commonly called seeds.

  • Chives are bulbous hardy perennial plants of the genus Allium in the Liliaceae, or Lily family, grown for their onion or garlic -flavored leaves and for their pretty and edible flower heads, rather than for their bulbs as with most other Alliums. They are very easy to grow.

  • Anethum graveolens is believed to have its beginnings in the Mediterranean region. The plant has a long and ancient history in many countries as a culinary and medicinal herb. The earliest known record of dill as a medicinal herb was found in Egypt 5,000 years ago when the plant was referred to as a “soothing medicine.”

  • Elder can be described as a rhizomatous, multi-stemmed shrub or small tree with a light gray to brown-colored bark. The dark green to deep purple-colored leaves have an unpleasant smell which is thought to act as an insect repellant. The flowers are cream colored and appear in flat clusters. The individual florets open randomly in a flower structure called a cymose corymb. The black fruits (berries) also mature randomly. Only the nutrient-rich flowers or ripe berries (after cooking) should be consumed. While many chemical constituents have been identified, some of the common nutrients include vitamin C, vitamin A, flavonoids, beta-carotene, iron, and potassium.

  • A biennial or perennial, fennel sends up four or five smooth stalks, hollow but containing a white pith, and bearing feathery, finely divided linear foliage on clasping leafstalks; blooming in large, flat umbels of golden yellow flowers in late summer, which ripen to gray-brown seed. Plants can reach just under 6 feet in height, although F. vulgare subsp. vulgare var. azoricum, the vegetable fennel with the bulbous stalk base, is shorter, growing to only 2 feet.

  • Formerly classified in the lily (Liliaceae) family, garlic, Allium sativum, is now a member of the family Alliaceae and includes two basic types (hardneck and softneck) and three recognized varieties. Hardneck garlics, which include A. sativum var. ophioscorodon and A. sativum var. pekinense, are characterized by hard, woody central stalks that extend down to the basal plate at the bottom of the bulb. They send up a flower stalk (scape) and umbel covered by a pointed spathe. In the A. sativum var. ophioscorodon variety, the scape curls or loops. The umbel contains a cluster of greenish-white or pink flowers from which aerial cloves called bulbils develop. Bulbils are generally smaller than cloves but, like cloves, can vary in size and number.

  • Horseradish originated in the southern part of Russia and the eastern part of the Ukraine. Ancient Greeks and Romans cultivated this herb for medicinal uses such as back pain and menstrual cramps. During the Middle Ages (c. 1000-1300) horseradish began to be incorporated into the Passover Seder as one of the marror, or bitter herbs, to be used by the Jewish people. In the mid-1800s, immigrants living in northeastern Illinois planted horseradish with the intention of selling the roots on the commercial market. Today a large portion of horseradish is grown in areas surrounding Collinsville, Illinois. The town of Collinsville refers to itself as “the horseradish capital of the world.” Horseradish is also grown in other areas of the United States such as Pennsylvania, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin and California. Canada and Europe also cultivate the herb to sell commercially.

  • Flower colors range from white to pink to lavender to purple. The leaves are 2.5” long and narrow, green to grey/green. The main components of the oils extracted from the flowers are linalool, 28-49% and linalyl acetate 12-45%. The oils are considered GRAS (generally recognized as safe) and they are used in perfumes, cosmetics, aromatherapy, and massage therapy. Caution should be used because the undiluted oil can cause an allergic rash.

  • Cunila is a branched subshrub with square, erect, wiry stems, appearing woody at the base. Leaves are opposite, pointed-oval, nearly stalkless and slightly serrated, and 1 to 1.5 inches long. The purplish lavender to rarely white tubular flowers on this monoecious plant appear in clusters at the tip of the stems and in the leaf axils, generally beginning in August and blooming through September. The corolla consists of an upper lobe notched at the apex with three lobes below, all nearly the same length, with two long protruding stamens and pistil. The tubular calyx is glabrous with five lobes, each flower less than one-half inch long. Dark brown nutlets, to .05 inches, glabrous, form in late fall. The entire plant is pleasantly fragrant.

  • Redring milkweed is an herbaceous perennial that derives its name from the showy terminal clusters of bicolored flowers in bloom from May to July. Each white waxy flower has a reddish to purple or pink center that forms a ring at the base of the typical milkweed arrangement of horns and hoods. Dark green elliptical to ovate leaves range from 3 to 5 inches long and 1 to 3 inches wide, with opposite arrangement usually in 4 to 6 pairs per stem. Generally non-branching, slender stems, which produce milky sap, can reach 3 feet in height. After floral pollination, pods (or follicles) form, which dehisce to disperse numerous seeds at maturity.

  • Wild bergamot is a clump-forming herbaceous perennial that reaches 2 to 4 feet in height with a 2 to 3 feet spread. Typical of the mint family, square stems produce round heads of two-lipped tubular flowers. These vary in color from pale to deep pink or rosy-lavender, set atop a whorl of pink to red-tinted leafy bracts. Bloom typically occurs from May to July in the southern part of its range, and July into September in northern areas. Foliage is greyish-green to dark green, lance-shaped with toothed margins, with a hairy or smooth surface. Depending on the chemistry, they may have an aroma ranging from thyme to oregano, mint, or rose geranium.

  • Typical of the Lamiaceae family, Pycnanthemum species have square stems, many bearing a covering of fine trichomes, opposite leaves, and head-like inflorescences from white to purple-spotted to pale lilac. They are most often branched perennials, some rapidly forming colonies. Speciation, or the process by which new species arise, occurs in Pycnanthemum by two methods: hybridization, the union of two species, and polyploidy, the doubling of chromosomes.

  • In the same family with other aromatic shrubs (Laurus nobilis, Cinnamomum spp., Persea spp., and Sassafras spp.) spicebush is a deciduous North American shrub that seldom grows more than 8-9 feet tall with a nearly equal, loosely rounded spread. Its entire, obovate (egg-shaped), alternate leaves turn a bright yellow in fall. Small yellow flowers growing in clusters held close to the stem appear in early spring. It is a dioecious plant with only the female plants producing fruits (drupes), assuming the presence of both male and female plants.

  • Herbaceous perennials or subshrubs, origanums are native to the Mediterranean and Eurasia and grow in mountainous areas with rocky, calcareous soil. Some species grow in mounds that are only 2-3 inches high, while others grow erect up to 39 inches tall. Flower stems may be erect or trailing and flowers may be purple, pink or white, depending on the species. Plants in the genus have atypical leaves called bracts, which surround the calyx and corolla. Leaves may be various shapes including round, heart-shaped and oval and stems may be woody or non-woody.

  • The generic name for parsley is derived from the Greek for rock, petros; is the most widely cultivated herb in Europe, and the most-used culinary herb in the United States. It became popular in Roman times for it's culinary use, but gained favor as an attractive plant that could be used as an edging in the garden or grown in a container. The Greeks held parsley in high esteem, using it to crown victors at the Isthmian Games; as well as using it medicinally.

  • Pelargoniums are a diverse group of plants with a wide variety of growth habits and habitats. Members of the family Geraniaceae, estimates of the total number of species and subspecies in the genus range from 230-300. Most are native to southern Africa, but a few species occur naturally in Australia, eastern Africa, New Zealand, the Middle East and the islands of Madagascar, St. Helena, and Tristan de Cuhna.

  • Man has had an intimate relationship with roses that has persisted throughout history. They are one of the oldest flowers known to man, yet still one of the most popular. Throughout generations of time, storytellers have passed on myths and legends that have fueled many of our beliefs about the meaning and symbolism of the rose. The rose has been called the flower of love, with many legends linking its blooms to the Greek goddess Aphrodite, also known as the Roman goddess Venus, and other goddesses of love.

  • Rosemary is native to the dry, rocky areas of the Mediterranean, especially along the coast. The genus name Rosmarinus derives from the Latin words ros and marinus which together translate to “dew of the sea.” Rosemary has been used since the time of the early Greeks and Romans. Greek scholars often wore a garland of the herb on their heads to help their memory during examinations. In the ninth century, Charlemagne insisted that the herb be grown in his royal gardens. The Eau de Cologne that Napoleon Bonaparte used was made with rosemary. The herb was also the subject of many poems and was mentioned in five of Shakespeare’s plays.

  • French tarragon grows from old roots each year to 2 to 3 feet in height. It is many-branched and gets semi-woody. The leaves are smooth, dark green, narrow and pointed on the upper parts of the plant and may be 3 inches long on mature plants but are usually shorter. They taste like anise and can numb the tip of the tongue when chewed. In contrast, Russian tarragon has lighter green leaves that are not so smooth, and their flavor is grassy and without the anise hint or the power to numb. It follows that seed-grown plants should be avoided and only plants grown from cuttings or divisions should be propagated and bought. The taste test will always distinguish one from the other.

  • Dilly Bits truly fulfills part of the mission of The Herb Society of America, which is to share the experience of its members with the community. Dilly Bits is a collection of thoughts and pictures sent in by members of The Herb Society of America about dill, the 2010 Herb of the Year™. Special thanks to Elizabeth Kennel for coming up with the idea and collecting the information. Special thanks also to the members who shared their insights and experiences with dill.

  • Horseradish Tales is a collection of thoughts and pictures sent in by members of The Herb Society of America about horseradish, the 2011 Herb of the Year™. Special thanks to Elizabeth Kennel for coming up with the idea and collecting the information. Special thanks also to the members who shared their insights and experiences with horseradish

  • In celebration of the rose being chosen as the 2012 Herb of the Year™, HSA members were asked to send in their experiences with roses. Rose Ramblings is a compilation of contributions from HSA members.

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