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The herb that wasn't an herb.

Discussion in 'Herbs' started by jackb, Jun 7, 2018.

  1. Jun 7, 2018
    jackb

    jackb Garden Addicted

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    We were traveling down historic Route 7 in Vermont today and stopped at a large greenhouse to look for herbs. Sure enough, they had a large selection of herbs, some very unusual. As a matter of fact, they had the largest variety of plants and vegetables for the garden than anyplace we have ever visited.

    We bought some oregano and my wife wanted to try a curry plant because it looked so attractive and had a fantastic aroma.

    When we got home I researched our plant to see what we could use it in and much to our dismay we found it is not an herb at all, though it is labeled as a herb and was sold in the herb section.

    Well, the flowers are supposed to be like strawflowers and the plant can be used for a potpourri.
    Here is what I found on motherearthliving:

    "Is this the real curry plant where curry seasoning comes from?” the lady asked, holding a little pot of herbs tenderly in her hand.
    “Yes, that’s where Indian curries get their flavor,” the sales clerk said with a smile.
    Next to me at a flower and garden show was a plant nursery booth, selling many varieties of herbs. I wasn’t surprised at the clerk’s answer, but I was sorry that she was misleading her customer.
    The truth is, the plant called “curry” isn’t actually an edible plant at all. Helichrysum italicum, sometimes listed as H. angustifolium, is the herb commonly sold as a curry plant by well-meaning nurseries and garden centers. It has a warm, curry-like fragrance, but is bitter to the taste. More reputable plant sellers will tell you the plant is not edible and will encourage you to grow the plant for use in potpourris and wreaths, but not for food. For more information about this plant, check The Big Book of Herbs (Interweave, 2000) by Arthur O. Tucker and Thomas DeBaggio."

    curry.jpg
     
  2. Jun 8, 2018
    digitS'

    digitS' Garden Master

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    A Helichrysum ... I was gonna say that I have grown Helichrysum as strawflowers. Now, I see that the botanists are not using that name and have changed it to Xerochrysum ... but anyway, Wikipedia says that there are an estimated 600 species of Helichrysum.

    Sorry, Jack. I wonder about the culinary herbs. They, apparently, aren't all created equal. I'm still not sure what I think of Oasis Rosemary. It isn't as wonderful as my Rex Rosemary but it is a "named variety" from seed companies that is grown from seed. I like rosemary but years ago, I grew a rosemary from seed and wasn't impressed. It might be that they still haven't come up with the right genetics - I think it would be a matter of isolating the desired characteristics.

    There's also tarragon. I know next to nothing about it but have read that you are better off growing Mexican tarragon from seed even tho it isn't a true tarragon but a marigold relative. French tarragon is best propagated only from cuttings. Darn!

    Do you know anything about oregano? I'd only experienced oregano on pizza and in restaurants until I grew it myself - from seed. That was decades ago! I decided that I would leave oregano to pizza makers and go with basil for everything I could think of :). I like my basil but oregano is just sorta so-so. Maybe it's just my tastes. Maybe it's just my oregano.

    Steve
     
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  3. Jun 8, 2018
    catjac1975

    catjac1975 Garden Master

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    Oregano is a monster of an invasive herb. Find a way to corral it.
     
  4. Jun 8, 2018
    thistlebloom

    thistlebloom Garden Master

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    That looks like it belongs in the artemesia family Jack. But what do I know, I'll leave it to the taxonomists to decide what belongs where,
     
  5. Jun 8, 2018
    aftermidnight

    aftermidnight Garden Addicted

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    If one wants the curry plant for culinary use look for Murraya koenigii and when it comes to oregano look for Greek oregano.

    Annette
     
  6. Jun 8, 2018
    Nyboy

    Nyboy Garden Master

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    I would plant under a window in a room you use a lot.
     
  7. Jun 8, 2018
    so lucky

    so lucky Garden Master

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    I wonder how many people have bought that "curry" plant and used it in cooking (once).
    I would have to agree that oregano is invasive. Not quite as bad as mint, but pretty bad. I don't complain too much about yanking out oregano and mint, though; at least I get a pleasant aroma when I pull it.
     
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  8. Jun 8, 2018
    jackb

    jackb Garden Addicted

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    Steve,
    Researching, I found a woman who has cooked with it for years and prefers it over the real curry. It may be the aroma that makes you think it tastes like curry. I also read that if you brush against it while it is wet you will go around all day smelling like an Indian restaurant.
    Being married to an Italian we have, and use, oregano, as well as several types of basil and of course Italian parsley. For whatever reason, she also wants spearmint. The curry plant is not poison, Therea tasted it and said it is very strong. I think I'll pass on it though.

    herbs.jpg

    jack
     
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  9. Jun 8, 2018
    ducks4you

    ducks4you Garden Master

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    @digitS' , if you haven't grown oregano, buy some!!! It is WONDERFUL as a filler plant. It grows about 2+ ft tall, has a great fragrance and it can act as a perfect ground/bed cover. It is really easy to remove where you don't want it. IF I have time this year I plan to fix my herb bed, which is really an oregano bed right now.
    AND, of COURSE, you can cook with it.
     
  10. Jun 8, 2018
    Pulsegleaner

    Pulsegleaner Deeply Rooted

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    Both true, though the fact that curry leaf is 1. tropical and 2. a shrub/small tree may put it beyond the reach of the more space limited temperate gardener.

    I actually have several "oreganos" for my use. I most often used Cuban oregano (Plectranthus) as I find it the most useful for things like Greek salads (the fact it is a succulent means you can basically make oregano "juice")

    If you REALLY like the taste of oregano there is also Originatum maru a.k.a. zataar (not to be confused with the spice mix). That is oregano on STEROIDS (half a leaf is enough for a whole pizza).
     
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