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Food

A Little Dragon in Your Recipes: Artemisia Dracunculus

Nature put in a great effort to achieve the result of beautiful, tasty, useful, and unique plants species. One of these unique cases is the genus Artemisia. Artemisia plants look like daisies but some of them are just spectacular. There are many species of Artemisia and each of one has “its right place in the world.” Most of them are medicinal and/or aromatic with powerful chemical compounds and strong aromas. Even if strong aromas with terpenoids in a plant species mean: “go away little herbivore, I am going to poison you,” human beings can use them as little “gourmet touches” in their culinary endeavors.

Worldwide, the most common and well-known Artemisia species is Artemisia dracunculus, the famous estragon or tarragon. Its origin is in the cold steppes of Mongolia, and in Greek folklore is well-known and called ‘drakontio’ or ‘stachtouri’. The first common name is derived obviously from ‘dracunculus’ and means “the little dragon,” due to the shape of its roots. The genus Artemisia derives from the goddess Artemis. In Greece there are many native species of Artemisia, but research of their uses is limited.

Research to date shows that this herb has pharmacological activity including carminative, digestive, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiparasitic, antimicrobial, anthelmintic, and fungicidal effects. Tarragon essence is used also in aromatherapy (used for massages, face masks, suspensions, baths, and compresses) in the treatment of gastrointestinal spasms, muscle function disorders, dyspepsia, hiccups, aerophagia, anxiety, intestinal worms, menstrual problems, delayed menstruation, and uterus stimulation.

In many countries’ culinary traditions, tarragon has a starring place both for its pleasant, spicy aroma and for its antibacterial and antifungal activity. As a herbal tea, it can help with digestion problems and anxiety. In cooking it gives an excellent taste to chicken together with thyme and lemon juice. Also, you can easily make your own tarragon vinegar. For a ½ L of vinegar you will need 1 cup of fresh tarragon leaves. Just place the leaves in the vinegar for 2 weeks and then strain it. You can use the vinegar in fresh salads or marinades and homemade mayonnaise.  

*The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.

Evropi-Sofia Dalampira Agriculturist-MSc Botany-Biology and PhD Candidate in Agricultural-Environmental Education and Science Communication/

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