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Compositae, Tagetes lucida, Spanish tarragon, Mexican marigold, Tzitziqui

April 3, 2008

Tagetes lucida, Spanish tarragon

Tagetes lucida or Spanish Tarragon is a delicious perennial herb with strong undertones of anise. In the tropics it grows and flowers year round. The leaves can be eaten fresh, also dried and ground into a powder then used as a tarragon substitute. Before the European invasion of the Americas, the leaves were an important flavoring of ‘chocolatl’, a foaming cocoa-based drink of the Aztecs which would/could also include vanilla bean, hot peppers, psilocyben mushrooms, and numerous other psychoactive ingredients.

All parts of the plant are used digestive, diuretic, febrifuge, hypotensive, hallucinogen, narcotic, sedative and stimulant. Quantity and method of administration determine the effect. Use of the plant depresses the central nervous system. The leaves can be used internally in the treatment of diarrhea, nausea, indigestion, colic, hiccups, malaria and feverish illnesses. Externally, it is used to treat scorpion bites and to remove ticks. The leaves can be harvested and used as required.The dried leaves and flowering tops can be brewed into a very agreeable tasting anise-flavored tea. This is a very popular drink in Latin America. Make the tea strong enough or smoke the leaves to become acquainted with some of the plants narcotic and hallucinogenic qualities.

Like other marigold species, secretions from the roots of Tagetes have insecticidal effects in the soil. Thus, apart from its various other uses, Tagetes are excellent plants to scatter in and amongst other plants. The dried plant can be burned as an insect deterring incense. A yellow die can be obtained from the flowers which, although small, is considered to be one of the sweetest smelling of all flowers.

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