THE HERB LIST
Angelica (Archangelica officinalis, Hoffm.), a biennial or perennial
herb of the natural order Umbelliferæ, so called from its supposed
medicinal qualities. It is believed to be a native of Syria, from[Pg 57][Pg 56]
whence it has spread to many cool European climates, especially Lapland
and the Alps, where it has become naturalized.
Description. Its roots are long, spindle-shaped, fleshy, and sometimes
weigh three pounds; its stems stout, herbaceous, fluted, often more than
4 feet tall, and hollow; its leaves long-stalked, frequently 3 feet in
length, reddish purple at the clasping bases, and composed, in the
larger ones, of numerous small leaflets, in three principal groups,
which are each subdivided into three lesser groups; its flowers
yellowish or greenish, small and numerous, in large roundish umbels; its
seeds pale yellow, membranous-edged, oblong flattened on one side,
convex on the other, which is marked with three conspicuous ribs.
Cultivation. Since the seeds lose their vitality rapidly, rarely being
viable after the first year, they should be sown as soon as ripe in late
summer or early autumn, or not later than the following spring after
having been kept during the winter in a cold storeroom. The soil should
be moderately rich, rather light, deep, well drained, but moist and well
supplied with humus. It should be deeply prepared and kept loose and
open as long as tools can be used among the plants, which may be left to
care for themselves as soon as they shade the ground well.
Prophecy of Many Toothsome Dishes
In the autumn, the seeds may be sown where the plants are to remain or
preferably in a nursery bed, which usually does not need protection
during the winter. In the spring a mild hotbed, a cold frame or a
nursery bed in the garden may be used, accord[Pg 58]ing to the earliness of
planting. Half an inch is deep enough to cover the seeds. The seedlings
should be transplanted when still small for their first summer's growth,
a space of about 18 inches being allowed between them. In the autumn
they should be removed to permanent quarters, the plants being set 3
If well grown, the leaves may be cut for use during the summer after
transplanting; the plants may not, however, produce seed until the
following season. Unless seed is desired, the tops should be cut and
destroyed at or before flowering time, because, if this be not done, the
garden is apt to become overrun with angelica seedlings. If the seeds
are wanted, they should be gathered and treated as indicated on page 28.
After producing seed, the plants frequently die; but by cutting down the
tops when the flower heads first appear, and thus preventing the
formation of seed, the plants may continue for several years longer.
Uses. The stems and leaf stalks, while still succulent, are eaten as a salad or are roasted or boiled like potatoes. In Europe, they are
frequently employed as a garnish or as an adjunct to dishes of meat and fish. They are also largely used for making candied angelica. (See
below.) Formerly the stems were blanched like celery and were very popular as a vegetable; now they are little used in the United States.
The tender leaves are often boiled and eaten as a substitute for spinach. Less in America than in Europe, the seeds, which, like other
parts of the plant, are aromatic and bitterish, are used for flavor[Pg 59]ing
various beverages, cakes, and candies, especially "comfits."
Oil of angelica is obtained from the seeds by distillation with steam or
boiling water, the vapor being condensed and the oil separated by gravity. It is also obtained in smaller quantity from the roots, 200
pounds of which, it is said, yield only about one pound of the oil. Like
the seeds, the oil is used for flavoring.
Angelica candied. Green says: The fresh roots, the tender stems, the
leaf stalks and the midribs of the leaves make a pleasing aromatic
candy. When fresh gathered the plant is rather too bitter for use. This
flavor may be reduced by boiling. The parts should first be sliced
lengthwise, to remove the pith. The length of time will depend somewhat
upon the thickness of the pieces. A few minutes is usually sufficient.
After removal and draining the pieces are put in a syrup of granulated
sugar and boiled till full candy density is reached. The kettle is then
removed from the fire and the contents allowed to cool. When almost cold
the pieces are to be taken out and allowed to dry.
Anise (Pimpinella Anisum, Linn.), an annual herb of the natural order
Umbelliferæ. It is a native of southwestern Asia, northern Africa and
south-eastern Europe, whence it has been introduced by man throughout
the Mediterranean region, into Germany, and to some extent into other
temperate regions of both hemispheres, but seems not to be known
anywhere in the wild state or as an escape from gardens. To judge from
its mention in the Scriptures (Matthew xxiii, 23), it was highly
valued[Pg 61][Pg 60] as a cultivated crop prior to our era, not only in Palestine,
but elsewhere in the East. Many Greek and Roman authors, especially
Dioscorides, Theophrastus, Pliny and Paladius, wrote more or less fully
of its cultivation and uses.
Anise in Flower and in Fruit
From their days to the present it seems to have enjoyed general
popularity. In the ninth century, Charlemagne commanded that it be grown
upon the imperial farms; in the thirteenth, Albertus Magnus speaks
highly of it; and since then many agricultural writers have devoted
attention to it. But though it has been cultivated for at least two
thousand years and is now extensively grown in Malta, Spain, southern
France, Russia, Germany and India, which mainly supply the market, it
seems not to have developed any improved varieties.
Description. - Its roots are white, spindle-shaped and rather fibrous;
its stems about 18 inches tall, branchy, erect, slender, cylindrical;
its root leaves lobed somewhat like those of celery; its stem leaves
more and more finely cut toward the upper part of the stem, near the top
of which they resemble fennel leaves in their finely divided segments;
its flowers yellowish white, small, rather large, in loose umbels
consisting of many umbellets; its fruits ("seeds") greenish-gray, small,
ovoid or oblong in outline, longitudinally furrowed and ridged on the
convex side, very aromatic, sweetish and pleasantly piquant.
Cultivation. - The [anise] seeds, which should be as fresh as possible, never
more than two years old, should be sown in permanent quarters as soon as
the weather becomes settled in early spring. They should be[Pg 62] planted ½
inch deep, about ½ inch asunder, in drills 15 or 18 inches apart, and
the plants thinned when about 2 inches tall to stand 6 inches asunder.
An ounce of seed should plant about 150 feet of drill. The plants, which
do not transplant readily, thrive best in well-drained, light, rich,
rather dry, loamy soils well exposed to the sun. A light application of
well-rotted manure, careful preparation of the ground, clean and
frequent cultivation, are the only requisites in the management of this
In about four months from the sowing of the seed, and in about one month
from the appearance of the flowers, the plants may be pulled, or
preferably cut, for drying. (See page 25.) The climate and the soils in
the warmer parts of the northern states appear to be favorable to the
commercial cultivation of anise, which it seems should prove a
profitable crop under proper management.
Uses. - The leaves are frequently employed as a garnish, for flavoring
salads, and to a small extent as potherbs. Far more general, however, is
the use of the seeds, which enter as a flavoring into various
condiments, especially curry powders, many kinds of cake, pastry, and
confectionery and into some kinds of cheese and bread. Anise oil is
extensively employed for flavoring many beverages both alcoholic and
non-spirituous and for disguising the unpleasant flavors of various
drugs. The seeds are also ground and compounded with other fragrant
materials for making sachet powders, and the oil mixed with other fluids
for liquid perfumes. Various similar anise combinations are largely used
in[Pg 63] perfuming soaps, pomatums and other toilet articles. The very
volatile, nearly colorless oil is usually obtained by distillation with
water, about 50 pounds of seed being required to produce one pound of
oil. At Erfurt, Germany, where much of the commercial oil is made, the
"hay" and the seeds are both used for distilling.
Balm (Melissa officinalis, Linn.), a perennial herb of the natural
order Labiatæ. The popular name is a contraction of balsam, the plant
having formerly been considered a specific for a host of ailments. The
generic name, Melissa, is the Greek for bee and is an allusion to
the fondness of bees for the abundant nectar of the flowers.
Balm is a native of southern Europe, where it was cultivated as a source
of honey and as a sweet herb more than 2,000 years ago. It is frequently
mentioned in Greek and Latin poetry and prose. Because of its use for
anointing, Shakespeare referred to it in the glorious lines (King
Richard II., act iii, scene 2):
"Not all the water in the rough, rude sea
Can wash the balm from an anointed king."
As a useful plant it received attention from the pen of Pliny. From its
home it has been introduced by man as a garden plant into nearly all
temperate climates throughout the world, and is often found as an escape
from gardens where introduced - occasionally in this role in the earliest
settled of the United States. Very few well-marked varieties have been
produced. A variegated one, now grown[Pg 64] for ornament as well as for
culinary purposes, is probably the same as that mentioned by Mawe in
Description. - The roots are small and fibrous; the stems, about 18
inches tall, very numerous, erect or spreading, square; the leaves,
green (except as mentioned), broadly ovate with toothed margins,
opposite, rather succulent, highly scented; the flowers, few, whitish,
or purplish, in small, loose, axillary, one-sided clusters borne from
midsummer until late autumn; the seeds very small—more than 50,000 to
Cultivation. - Balm is readily propagated by means of divisions,
layers, cuttings, and by its seeds, which germinate fairly well even
when four years old. Owing to its small size, the seed should be planted
in a seedpan or flat in a greenhouse or hotbed, where all conditions can
be controlled. The soil should be made very fine and friable, the thinly
scattered seeds merely pressed upon the surface with a block or a brick,
and water applied preferably through the bottom of the seedpan, which
may be set in a shallow dish of water until the surface of the soil
begins to appear moist.
When an inch tall the seedlings should be pricked out 2 inches apart in
other, deeper flats and when about 4 inches tall set in the garden about
1 foot asunder in rows about 18 inches apart. When once established they
may be increased readily by the artificial means mentioned. (See page 34.) Ordinary clean cultivation throughout the season, the removal of
dead parts, and care to prevent the[Pg 65] plants from spreading unduly, are
the only requisites of cultivation. Preferably the soil should be poor,
rather dry, little if at all enriched and in a sunny place. The foliage
of seedling plants or plants newly spring-set should be ready for use by
midsummer; that of established plants from early spring until late
autumn. For home use and market it should be cured as recommended on
page 25, the leaves being very thinly spread and plentifully supplied
with air because of their succulence. The temperature should be rather
Uses.—The foliage is widely used for flavoring soups, stews, sauces,
and dressings, and, when fresh, to a small extent with salads. Otto or
oil of balm, obtained by aqueous distillation from the "hay," is a pale
yellow, essential and volatile oil highly prized in perfumery for its
lemon-like odor, and is extensively employed for flavoring various
Basil (Ocymum basilicum, Linn.), an annual herb of the order Labiatæ.
The popular name, derived from the specific, signifies royal or kingly,
probably because of the plant's use in feasts. In France it is known as
herb royale, royal herb. The generic name is derived from Oza, a Greek
word signifying odor.
The plant is a native of tropical Asia, where for centuries, especially
in India, it has been highly esteemed as a condiment. Probably the early
Greek and Roman writers were well acquainted with it, but commentators
are not decided. They suppose that the Okimon of Hippocrates,
Dioscorides and Theophrastus is the same as Ocimum hortense of
Columella and Varro.[Pg 66]
The plant's introduction into England was about 1548, or perhaps a
little earlier, but probably not prior to 1538, because Turner does not
mention it in his "Libellus," published in that year. It seems to have
grown rapidly in popularity, for in 1586 Lyte speaks of it as if well
known. In America it has been cultivated somewhat for about a century
partly because of its fragrant leaves which are employed in bouquets,
but mainly for flavoring culinary concoctions. In Australia it is also
more or less grown, and in countries where French commerce or other
interests have penetrated it is well known.
There are several related species which, in America less than in Europe
or the East, have attracted attention. The most important of these is
dwarf or bush basil (O. minimum, Linn.), a small Chilian species also
reported from Cochin China. It was introduced into cultivation in Europe
in 1573. On account of its compact form it is popular in gardens as an
edging as well as a culinary herb, for more than a[Pg 67] century it has been
grown in America. Sacred basil (O. sanctum), an oriental species, is
cultivated near temples in India and its odoriferous oil extracted for
religious uses. Formerly the common species was considered sacred by the
Brahmins who used it especially in honor of Vishnu and in funeral rites.
An African species, O. fruticosum, is highly valued at the Cape of
Good Hope for its perfume.
Description.—From the small, fibrous roots the square stems stand
erect about 1 foot tall. They are very branching and leafy. The leaves
are green, except as noted below, ovate, pointed, opposite, somewhat
toothed, rather succulent and highly fragrant. The little white flowers
which appear in midsummer are racemed in leafy whorls, followed by small
black fruits, popularly called seeds. These, like flaxseed, emit a
mucilaginous substance when soaked in water. About 23,000 weigh an
ounce, and 10 ounces fill a pint. Their vitality lasts about eight years.
Like most of the other culinary herbs, basil has varied little in
several centuries; there are no well-marked varieties of modern origin.
Only three varieties of common basil are listed in America; Vilmorin
lists only five French ones. Purple basil has lilac flowers, and when
grown in the sun also purple leaf stems and young branches.
Lettuce-leaved basil has large, pale-green blistered and wrinkled leaves
like those of lettuce. Its closely set clusters of flowers appear
somewhat late. The leaves are larger and fewer than in the common
The dwarf species is more compact, branching and dainty than the common
species. It has three varieties; one with deep violet foliage and stems
and lilac white flowers, and two with green leaves, one very dense and
East Indian, or Tree Basil (O. gratissimum, Linn.), a well-known
species in the Orient, seems to have a substitute in O. suave, also
known by the same popular name, and presumably the species cultivated in
Europe and to some extent in America. It is an upright, branching
annual, which forms a pyramidal bush about 20 inches tall and often 15
inches in diameter. It favors very warm situations and tropical
Cultivation. - Basil is propagated by seeds. Because these are very
small, they are best sown in flats under glass, covered lightly with
finely sifted soil and moistened by standing in a shallow pan of water
until the surface shows a wet spot. When about an inch tall, the
seedlings must be pricked out 2 inches apart each way in larger-sized
flats. When 3 inches tall they will be large enough for the garden,
where they should be set 1 foot asunder in rows 15 to 18 inches apart.
Often the seed is sown in the mellow border as early in the spring as
the ground can be worked. This method demands perhaps more attention
than the former, because of weeds and because the rows cannot be easily
seen. When transplanting, preference should be given to a sunny
situation in a mellow, light, fertile, rather dry soil thoroughly well
prepared and as free from weeds as possible. From the start[Pg 69] the ground
must be kept loose, open and clean. When the plants meet in the rows
cultivation may stop.
First gatherings of foliage should begin by midsummer when the plants
start to blossom. Then they may be cut to within a few inches of the
ground. The stumps should develop a second and even a third crop if care
is exercised to keep the surface clean and open. A little dressing of
quickly available fertilizer applied at this time is helpful. For seed
some of the best plants should be left uncut. The seed should ripen by
For winter use plants may be transplanted from the garden, or seedlings
may be started in September. The seeds should be sown two to the inch
and the seedlings transplanted to pots or boxes. A handy pot is the
4-inch standard; this is large enough for one plant. In flats the plants
should be 5 or 6 inches apart each way.
Uses.—Basil is one of the most popular herbs in the French cuisine.
It is especially relished in mock turtle soup, which, when correctly
made, derives its peculiar taste chiefly from the clovelike flavor of
basil. In other highly seasoned dishes, such as stews and dressings,
basil is also highly prized. It is less used in salads. A golden yellow
essential oil, which reddens with age, is extracted from the leaves for
uses in perfumery more than in the kitchen.
The original and famous Fetter Lane sausages, formerly popular with
Cockney epicures, owed their reputation mainly to basil. During the
reigns of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth farmers grew[Pg 71][Pg 70] basil in pots
and presented them with compliments to their landladies when these paid
Borage, Famous for "Cool Tankard"
Borage (Borago officinalis, Linn.), a coarse, hardy, annual herb of
the natural order Boraginaceæ. Its popular name, derived from the
generic, is supposed by some to have come from a corruption of cor,
the heart, and ago, to affect, because of its former use as a cordial
or heart-fortifying medicine. Courage is from the same source. The
Standard Dictionary, however, points to burrago, rough, and relates it
indirectly by cross references to birrus, a thick, coarse woolen cloth
worn by the poor during the thirteenth century. The roughness of the
full-grown leaves suggests flannel. Whichever derivation be correct,
each is interesting as implying qualities, intrinsic or attributed, to
The specific name indicates its obsolete use in medicine. It is one of
the numerous plants which have shaken off the superstitions which a
credulous populace wreathed around them. Almost none but the least
enlightened people now attribute any medicinal virtues whatever to it.
The plant is said to come originally from Aleppo, but for centuries has
been considered a native of Mediterranean Europe and Africa, whence it
has become naturalized throughout the world by Europeans, who grew it
probably more for medicinal than for culinary purposes. According to
Ainslie, it was among the species listed by Peter Martyr as planted on
Isabella Island by Columbus's companions. The probability is that it was
also brought to America by the colonists during Queen Eliza[Pg 72]beth's time.
It has been listed in American seedsmen's catalogues since 1806, but the
demand has always been small and the extent to which it is cultivated
Description.—Borage is of somewhat spreading habit, branchy, about 20
inches tall. Its oval or oblong-lanceolate leaves and other green parts
are covered with whitish, rather sharp, spreading hairs. The flowers,
generally blue, sometimes pink, violet-red, or white, are loosely
racemed at the extremities of the branches and main stems.
"The flaming rose glooms swarthy red;
The borage gleams more blue;
And low white flowers, with starry head,
Glimmer the rich dusk through."
"Songs of the Summer Night," Part III
The seeds are rather large, oblong, slightly curved, and a ridged and
streaked grayish-brown. They retain their vitality for about eight
Cultivation.—No plant is more easily grown. The seed need only be
dropped and covered in any soil, from poor to rich, and the plants will
grow like weeds, and even become such if allowed to have sway. Borage
seems, however, to prefer rather light, dry soils, waste places and
steep banks. Upon such the flavor of the flowers is declared to be
superior to that produced upon richer ground, which develops a ranker
growth of foliage.
In the garden the seeds are sown about ½ inch asunder and in rows 15
inches apart. Shortly after[Pg 73] the plants appear they are thinned to stand
3 inches apart, the thinnings being cooked like spinach, or, if small
and delicate, they may be made into salads. Two other thinnings may be
given for similar purposes as the plants grow, so that at the final
thinning the specimens will stand about a foot asunder. Up to this time
the ground is kept open and clean by cultivation; afterwards the borage
will usually have possession.
Uses.—More popular than the use of the foliage as a potherb and a
salad is the employment of borage blossoms and the tender upper leaves,
in company or not with those of nasturtium, as a garnish or an ornament
to salads, and still more as an addition to various cooling drinks. The
best known of these beverages is cool tankard, composed of wine, water,
lemon juice, sugar and borage flowers. To this "they seem to give
additional coolness." They are often used similarly in lemonade, negus,
claret-cup and fruit juice drinks.
The plant has possibly a still more important though undeveloped use as
a bee forage. It is so easily grown and flowers so freely that it should
be popular with apiarists, especially those who own or live near waste
land, dry and stony tracts which they could sow to it. For such places
it has an advantage over the many weeds which generally dispute
possession in that it may be readily controlled by simple cultivation.
It generally can hold its own against the plant populace of such places.
Caraway for Comfits
and Birthday Cakes
Caraway (Carum carui, Linn.), a biennial or an annual herb of the
natural order Umbelliferæ. Its[Pg 74] names, both popular and botanical, are
supposed to be derived from Caria, in Asia Minor, where the plant is
believed first to have attracted attention. From very early ages the
caraway has been esteemed by cooks and doctors, between which a friendly
rivalry might seem to exist, each vying to give it prominence. At the
present time the cooks seem to be in the ascendancy; the seeds or their
oil are rarely used in modern medicine, except to disguise the flavor of
Since caraway seeds were found by O'Heer in the debris of the lake
habitations of Switzerland, the fact seems well established that the
plant is a native of Europe and the probability is increased that the
Careum of Pliny is this same plant, as its use by Apicus would also
indicate. It is mentioned in the twelfth-century writings as grown in
Morocco, and in the thirteenth by the Arabs. As a spice, its use in
England seems to have begun at the close of the fourteenth century. From
its Asiatic home it spread first with Phoenician commerce to western
Europe, whence by later voyageurs it has been carried throughout the
civilized world. So widely has it been distributed that the traveler may
find it in the wilds of Iceland and Scandinavia, the slopes of sunny
Spain, the steeps of the Himalayas, the veldt of southern Africa, the
bush of Australia, the prairies and the pampas of America.
Caraway is largely cultivated in Morocco, and is an important article of
export from Russia, Prussia, and Holland. It has developed no clearly
marked varieties; some specimens, however, seem to be more distinctly
annual than others, though attempts to isolate these and thus secure a
quick-maturing variety seem not to have been made.
Description.—The fleshy root, about ½ inch in diameter, is
yellowish externally, whitish within, and has a slight carroty taste.
From it a rosette of finely pinnated leaves is developed, and later the
sparsely leaved, channeled, hollow, branching flower stem which rises
from 18 to 30 inches and during early summer bears umbels of little
white flowers[Pg 76] followed by oblong, pointed, somewhat curved, light brown
aromatic fruits—the caraway "seeds" of commerce. These retain their
germinating power for about three years, require about 10,000 seeds to
make an ounce and fifteen ounces to the quart.
Cultivation. - Frequently, if not usually, caraway is sown together
with coriander in the same drills on heavy lands during May or early
June. The coriander, being a quick-maturing plant, may be harvested
before the caraway throws up a flowering stem. Thus two crops may be
secured from the same land in the same time occupied by the caraway
alone. Ordinary thinning to 6 or 8 inches between plants is done when
the seedlings are established. Other requirements of the crop are all
embraced in the practices of clean cultivation.
Harvest occurs in July of the year following the seeding. The plants are
cut about 12 inches above ground with sickles, spread on sheets to dry
for a few days, and later beaten with a light flail. After threshing,
the seed must be spread thinly and turned daily until the last vestige
of moisture has evaporated. From 400 to 800 pounds is the usual range of
If seed be sown as soon as ripe, plants may be secured which mature
earlier than the main crop. Thus six or eight weeks may be saved in the
growing season, and by continuing such selection a quick-maturing strain
may be secured with little effort. This would also obviate the trouble
of keeping seed from one year to the next, for the strain would be
practically a winter annual.[Pg 77]
Uses. - Occasionally the leaves and young shoots are eaten either
cooked or as an ingredient in salads. The roots, too, have been esteemed
in some countries, even more highly than the parsnip, which, however,
largely because of its size, has supplanted it for this purpose. But the
[caraway] seeds are the important part. They find popular use in bread, cheese,
liquors, salads, sauces, soups, candy, and especially in seed cakes,
cookies and comfits. The colorless or pale yellow essential oil
distilled with water from the seeds, which contain between 5% and 7½%
of it, has the characteristic flavor and odor of the fruit. It is
extensively employed in the manufacture of toilet articles, such as
perfumery, and especially soaps.
Catnip, or cat mint (Nepeta cataria, Linn.), a perennial herb of the
natural order Labiatæ. The popular name is in allusion to the attraction
the plant has for cats. They not only eat it, but rub themselves upon it
purring with delight. The generic name is derived from the Etrurian city
Neptic, in the neighborhood of which various species of the genus
formerly became prominent.
Like several of its relatives catnip is a well-known weed. It has become
naturalized in America, and is most frequently observed in dry, waste
places, especially in the East, though it is also often found in gardens
and around dwellings throughout the United States and Canada.
Description.—Its erect, square, branching stems, from 18 to 36 inches
tall, bear notched oval or heartshaped leaves, whitish below, and during
late sum[Pg 78]mer terminal clusters of white flowers in small heads, far
apart below, but crowded close above. The fruits are small, brown,
ovoid, smooth and with three clearly defined angles. An ounce contains
about 3,400 seeds. Viability lasts for five years.
Catnip, Pussy's Delight
Cultivation. Catnip will grow with the most or[Pg 79]dinary attention on any
fairly dry soil. The seed need only be sown in autumn or spring where
the plants are to remain or in a nursery bed for subsequent
transplanting. If to be kept in a garden bed they should stand 18 to 24
inches apart each way. Nothing is needful except to keep down weeds in
order to have them succeed for several years on the same spot.
Uses.—The most important use of the plant is as a bee forage; for
this purpose waste places are often planted to catnip. As a condiment
the leaves were formerly in popular use, especially in the form of
sauces; but milder flavors are now more highly esteemed. Still, the
French use catnip to a considerable extent. Like many of its relatives,
catnip was a popular medicinal remedy for many fleshly ills; now it is
practically relegated to domestic medicine. Even in this it is a
moribund remedy for infant flatulence, and is clung to only by
unlettered nurses of a passing generation.
Chervil (Scandix Cerefolium, Linn.), a southern Europe annual, with
stems about 18 inches tall and bearing few divided leaves composed of
oval, much-cut leaflets. The small white flowers, borne in umbels, are
followed by long, pointed, black seeds with a conspicuous furrow from
end to end. These seeds, which retain their germinability about three
years, but are rather difficult to keep, may be sown where the plants
are to stay, at any season, about eight weeks before a crop is desired;
cultivation is like that of parsley. During summer and in warm climates,
cool, shady situations should be[Pg 80] chosen, otherwise any situation and
soil are suitable. The [chervil] leaves, which are highly aromatic, are used,
especially in France and England, for seasoning and for mixed salads.
Chervil is rarely used alone, but is the chief ingredient in what the
French call fines herbes, a mixture which finds its way into a host of
culinary concoctions. The best variety is the Curled, which, though it
has the same flavor as the plain, is a prettier garnish.
Chives (Allium Schúnoprasum, Linn.), a bulbous, onion-like
perennial belonging to the Liliaceæ. Naturally the plants form thick
tufts of abundant, hollow, grasslike leaves from their little oval bulbs
and mat of fibrous roots. The short flower stems bear terminal clusters
of generally sterile flowers. Hence the plants are propagated by
planting the individual bulbs or by division of clumps in early spring.
Frequently chives are planted in flower borders as an edging, for which
purpose the compact growth and dainty flowers particularly recommend
them. They should not be allowed to grow in the same place more than
Strictly speaking, chives do not belong with the herbs, but their leaves
are so frequently used instead of onions for flavoring salads, stews and
other dishes, and reference has been so often made to them in these
pages, that a brief description has been included. For market the clumps
are cut in squares and the whole plant sold. Treated in this way the
greengrocers can keep them in good condition by watering until sold. For
use the leaves are cut with shears close to the ground. If allowed to[Pg 81]
stand in the garden, cuttings may be made at intervals of two or three
weeks all through the season.
Clary (Salvia sclarea, Linn.), a perennial herb of the natural order
Labiatæ. The popular name is a corruption of the specific. In the
discussion on sage will be found the significance of the generic name.
Syria is said to be the original home of clary, but Italy is also
mentioned. The presumption is in favor of the former country, as it is
the older, and the plant was probably carried westward from it by
soldiers or merchants. In England clary was known prior to 1538, when
Turner published his garden lore, but in America, except in foreigners'
gardens, it is rarely seen. It has been listed in seedsmen's catalogs
Description.—The large, very broad, oblong, obtuse, toothed, woolly
haired, radical leaves are grayish green and somewhat rumpled like those
of Savoy cabbage. From among them rise the 2-foot tall, square,
branching, sparsely leaved stems, which during the second year bear
small clusters of lilac or white showy flowers in long spikes. The
smooth brown or marbled shining seeds retain their germinating power for
Cultivation.—The plants thrive in any well-drained soil. Seed may be
sown during March in drills 18 inches apart where the plants are to
remain or in a seedbed for transplanting 18 inches asunder in May. Clean
cultivation is needed throughout the summer until the plants have full
possession of the ground. In August the leaves may be gathered, and if
this harvest be judiciously done the produc[Pg 82]tion of foliage should
continue until midsummer of the second year, when the plants will
probably insist upon flowering. After this it is best to rely upon new
plants for supplies of leaves, the old plants being pulled.
Uses.—In America, the leaves are little used in cookery, and even in
Europe they seem to be less popular than formerly, sage having taken
their place. Wine is sometimes made from the plant when in flower. As an
ornamental, clary is worth a place in the hardy flower border.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum, Linn.), "a plant of little beauty and
of easiest culture," is a hardy annual herb of the natural order
Umbelliferæ. The popular name is derived from the generic, which comes
from the ancient Greek Koris, a kind of bug, in allusion to the
disagreeable odor of the foliage and other green parts. The specific
name refers to its cultivation in gardens. Hence the scientific name
declares it to be the cultivated buggy-smelling plant.
Coriander has been cultivated from such ancient times that its land of
nativity is unknown, though it is said to be a native of southern Europe
and of[Pg 83] China. It has been used in cookery and of course, too, in
medicine; for, according to ancient reasoning, anything with so
pronounced and unpleasant an odor must necessarily possess powerful
curative or preventive attributes! Its seeds have been found in Egyptian
tombs of the 21st dynasty. Many centuries later Pliny wrote that the
best quality of seed still came to Italy from Egypt. Prior to the Norman
conquest in 1066, the plant was well known in Great Britain, probably
having been taken there by the early Roman conquerors. Before 1670 it
was introduced into Massachusetts. During this long period of
cultivation there seems to be no record or even indication of varieties.
In many temperate and tropical countries it has become a frequent weed
in cultivated fields.
Description.—From a cluster of slightly divided radical leaves
branching stems rise to heights of 2 to 2½ feet. Toward their summits
they bear much divided leaves, with linear segments and umbels of small
whitish flowers, followed by pairs of united, hemispherical,
brownish-yellow, deeply furrowed "seeds," about the size of a sweet pea
seed. These retain their vitality for five or six years. The seeds do
not have the unpleasant odor of the plant, but have a rather agreeable
smell and a moderately warm, pungent taste.
Cultivation. - Coriander, a plant of the easiest culture, does best in
a rather light, warm, friable soil. In Europe it is often sown with
caraway, which, being a biennial and producing only a rosette of leaves
at the surface of the ground the first year, is[Pg 84] not injured when the
annual coriander is cut. The seed is often sown in the autumn, though
spring sowing is perhaps in more favor. The rows are made about 15
inches apart, the seeds dropped 1 inch asunder and ½ inch deep and the
plantlets thinned to 6 or 8 inches. Since the plants run to seed
quickly, they must be watched and cut early to prevent loss and
consequent seeding of the ground. After curing in the shade the seed is
threshed as already described (see page 28). On favorable land the yield
may reach or even exceed 1,500 pounds to the acre.
Uses. - Some writers say the young leaves of the plant are used in
salads and for seasoning soups, dressings, etc. If this is so, I can
only remark that there is no accounting for tastes. I am inclined to
think, however, that these writers are drawing upon their imagination or
have been "stuffed" by people who take pleasure in supplying
misinformation. The odor is such as to suggest the flavor of "buggy"
raspberries we sometimes gather in the fence rows. Any person who
relishes buggy berries may perhaps enjoy coriander salad or soup.
Only the [coriander] seed is of commercial importance. It is used largely in making
comfits and other kinds of confectionery, for adding to bread, and,
especially in the East, as an ingredient in curry powder and other
condiments. In medicine its chief use now is to disguise the taste of
disagreeable drugs. Distillers use it for flavoring various kinds of
Cumin (Cuminum Cyminum, Linn.), a low-grow[Pg 85]ing annual herb of the Nile
valley, but cultivated in the Mediterranean region, Arabia, Egypt,
Morocco, India, China, and Palestine from very early times, (See Isaiah
xviii, 25-27 and Matthew xxiii, 23.) Pliny is said to have considered it
the best appetizer of all condiments. During the middle ages it was in
very common use. All the old herbals of the sixteenth and the
seventeenth centuries figure and describe and extol it. In Europe it is
extensively cultivated in Malta and Sicily, and will mature seed as far
north as Norway; in America, today, the seed is cataloged by some
seedsmen, but very little is grown.
Description.—The plant is very diminutive, rarely exceeding a height
of 6 inches. Its stems, which branch freely from the base, bear mere
linear leaves and small lilac flowers, in little umbels of 10 to 20
blossoms each. The six-ribbed, elongated "seeds" in appearance resemble
caraway seeds, but are straighter, lighter and larger, and in formation
are like the double seeds of coriander, convex on one side and concave
on the other. They bear long hairs, which fold up when the seed is dry.
After the seed has been kept for two years it begins to lose its
germinating power, but will sprout reasonably well when three years old.
It is characterized by a peculiar, strong aromatic odor, and a hot
Culture.—As soon as the ground has become warm the seed is sown in
drills about 15 inches apart where the plants are to remain. Except for
keeping down the weeds no further attention is[Pg 87][Pg 86] necessary. The plants
mature in about two months, when the stems are cut and dried in the
shade. (See page 28.) The seeds are used in India as an ingredient in
curry powder, in France for flavoring pickles, pastry and soups.
Dill, of Pickle Fame
Dill (Anethum graveolens, Linn.), a hardy annual, native of the
Mediterranean and the Black Sea regions, smaller than common fennel,
which it somewhat resembles both in appearance and in the flavor of the
green parts, which are, however, less agreeable.
In ancient times it was grown in Palestine. The word translated, "anise"
in Matthew xxiii, 23, is said to have been "dill" in the original Greek.
It was well known in Pliny's time, and is often discussed by writers in
the middle ages. According to American writings, it has been grown in
this country for more than 100 years and has become spontaneous in many
Description.—Ordinarily the plants grow 2 to 2½ feet tall. The
glaucous, smooth, hollow, branching stems bear very threadlike leaves
and in midsummer compound umbels with numerous yellow flowers, whose
small petals are rolled inward. Very flat, pungent, bitter seeds are
freely produced, and unless gathered early are sure to stock the garden
with volunteer seedlings for the following year. Under fair storage
conditions, the seeds continue viable for three years. They are rather
light; a quart of them weighs about 11 ounces, and an ounce is said to
contain over 25,000 seeds.[Pg 88]
Cultivation.—Where dill has not already been grown seed may be sown
in early spring, preferably in a warm sandy soil, where the plants are
to remain. Any well-drained soil will do. The drills should be 1 foot
apart, the seeds scattered thinly and covered very shallow; a bed 12
feet square should supply abundance of seed for any ordinary family. To
sow this area ¼ to ½ ounce of seed is ample. For field use the rows
may be 15 inches apart and the seed sown more thinly. It should not be
covered much more than ¼ inch. Some growers favor fall sowing, because
they claim the seed is more likely to germinate than in the spring, and
also to produce better plants than spring-sown seed.
At all times the plants must be kept free from weeds and the soil loose
and open. When three or four weeks old the seedlings are thinned to 9
inches, or even a foot apart. As soon as the seed is ripe, shortly after
midsummer, it must be gathered with the least possible shaking and
handling, so as to prevent loss. It is well to place the stems as cut
directly in a tight-bottomed cart or a wheelbarrow, with a canvas
receptacle for the purpose, and to haul direct to the shade where drying
is to occur. A good place for this is a barn, upon the floor of which a
large canvas sheet is spread, and where a free circulation of air can be
secured. (See page 28.)
Uses.—The French use dill for flavoring preserves, cakes and pastry.
For these purposes it is of too strong and pronounced a character to be
relished by American palates. The seeds perhaps more often[Pg 89] appear in
soups, sauces and stews, but even here they are relished more by our
European residents than by native Americans. Probably they are most used
in pickles, especially in preserving cucumbers according to German
recipes. Thousands of barrels of such pickles are sold annually, more
especially in the larger cities and to the poorer people; but as this
pickle is procurable at all delicatessen stores, it has gained great
popularity among even the well-to-do. An oil is distilled from the seeds
and used in perfuming soap. The young leaves are said to be used in
pickles, soups and sauces, and even in salads. For the last purpose they
are rather strong to suit most people, and for the others the seeds are
far more popular.
Dill vinegar is a popular household condiment. It is made by soaking the
seed in good vinegar for a few days before using. The quantity of
ingredients to use is immaterial. Only a certain amount of the flavor
can be dissolved by the vinegar, and as few samples of vinegar are
alike, the quantities both to mix and of the decoction to use must be
left to the housewife. This may be said, however, that after one lot of
seed has been treated the vinegar may be poured off and the seeds
steeped a second time to get a weaker infusion. The two infusions may
then be mixed and kept in a dark cupboard for use as needed.
Fennel (Fœniculum officinale, All.), a biennial or perennial herb,
generally considered a native of southern Europe, though common on all
Mediterranean shores. The old Latin name Fœniculum is[Pg 90] derived from
fœnum or hay. It has spread with civilization, especially where
Italians have colonized, and may be found growing wild in many parts of
the world, upon dry soils near the sea coast and upon river banks.
It seems to be partial to limestone soils, such as the chalky lands of
England and the shelly formation of Bermuda. In this latter community I
have seen it thriving upon cliffs where there seemed to be only a pinch
of soil, and where the rock was so dry and porous that it would crumble
to coarse dust when crushed in the hand. The plant was cultivated by the
ancient Romans for its aromatic fruits and succulent, edible shoots.
Whether cultivated in northern Europe at that time is not certain, but
it is frequently mentioned in Anglo-Saxon cookery prior to the Norman
conquest. Charlemagne ordered its culture upon the imperial farms. At
present it is most popular in Italy, and France. In America it is in
most demand among French and[Pg 91] Italians. Like many other plants, fennel
has had a highly interesting career from a medical point of view. But it
no longer plays even a "small part" in the drama. Hints as to its
history may be found on page 54.
Description.—Common garden or long, sweet fennel is distinguished
from its wild or better relative (F. vulgare) by having much stouter,
taller (5 to 6 feet) tubular and larger stems, less divided, more
glaucous leaves. But a still more striking difference is seen in the
leaf stalks which form a curved sheath around the stem even as far up as
the base of the leaf above. Then, too, the green flowers are borne on
more sturdy pedicels in the broader umbels, lastly the seeds are double
the size of the wild fennel seeds, ¼ or ½ inch long. They are convex
on one side, flat on the other, and are marked by five yellowish ribs.
Though a French writer says the seed degenerates "promptly," and
recommends the use of fresh seed annually, it will not be wise to throw
away any where it is not wanted to germinate, unless it is over four
years old, as seed as old even as that is said to be satisfactory for
Cultivation.—In usual garden practice fennel is propagated by seeds,
and is grown as an annual instead of as a biennial or a perennial. The
plants will flourish in almost any well-drained soil, but seem to prefer
light loams of a limy nature. It is not particular as to exposure. The
seed may be sown in nursery beds or where the plants are to remain. In
the beds, the drills may be 6 inches[Pg 92] apart, and not more than 1-3 inch
deep, or the seed may be scattered broadcast. An ounce will be enough
for a bed 10 feet square. When the plants are about 3 inches tall they
should be transplanted 15 or 18 inches asunder in rows 2 to 2½ feet
apart. Some growers sow in late summer and in autumn so as to have early
crops the following season; they also make several successional sowings
at intervals of one or two weeks, in order to supply the demands of
their customers for fresh fennel stalks from midsummer to December or
even later. The plants will grow more or less in very cold, that is, not
actually freezing weather.
If sown in place, the rows should be the suggested 2 to 2½ feet
apart, and the plants thinned several times until the required distance
is reached. Thinnings may be used for culinary purposes. For family use
half an ounce of seed, if fairly fresh, will produce an ample supply of
plants, and for several years, either from the established roots or by
reseeding. Unless seed is needed for household or sowing purposes, the
flower stems should be cut as soon as they appear.
Uses.—Fennel is considered indispensable in French and Italian
cookery. The young plants and the tender leaves are often used for
garnishes and to add flavor to salads. They are also minced and added to
sauces usually served with puddings. The tender stems and the leaves are
employed in soups and fish sauces, though more frequently they are eaten
raw as a salad with or without dressing. The famous "Carosella" of
Naples consists of the stems[Pg 93] cut when the plant is about to bloom.
These stems are considered a great delicacy served raw with the leaf
stalks still around them. Oil, vinegar and pepper are eaten with them.
By sowing at intervals of a week or 10 days Italian gardeners manage to
have a supply almost all the year.
The seeds are used in cookery, confectionery and for flavoring liquors.
Oil of fennel, a pale yellow liquid, with a sweetish aromatic odor and
flavor, is distilled with water. It is used in perfumery and for
scenting soaps. A pound of oil is the usual yield of 500 pounds of the
Finocchio, or Florence fennel (F. dulce, D. C.), deserves special
mention here. It appears to be a native of Italy, a distinct dwarf
annual, very thick-set herb. The stem joints are so close together and
their bases so swelled as to suggest malformation. Even when full grown
and producing seed, the plant rarely exceeds 2 feet. The large, finely
cut, light green leaves are borne on very broad, pale green or almost
whitish stalks, which overlap at their bases, somewhat like celery, but
much more swelled at edible maturity, to form a sort of head or
irregular ball, the "apple," as it is called, sometimes as large as a
man's fist. The seeds are a peculiar oblong, much broader than long,
convex on one side and flat on the other, with five conspicuous ribs.
Cultivation is much the same as for common fennel, though owing to the
dwarf nature of the plant the rows and the plants may be closer
together. The seedlings should be 5 or 6 inches asunder. They are very
thirsty things and require water frequently.[Pg 94] When the "apple" attains
the size of an egg, earth may be drawn up slightly to the base, which
may be about half covered; cutting may begin about 10 days later.
Florence fennel is generally boiled and served with either a butter or a
cream dressing. It suggests celery in flavor, but is sweeter and is even
more pleasingly fragrant. In Italy it is one of the commonest and most
popular of vegetables. In other European countries it is also well
known, but in America its cultivation is almost confined to Italian
gardens or to such as supply Italian demands in the large cities. In New
York it is commonly sold by greengrocers and pushcart men in the Italian
Fennel Flower (Nigella sativa, Linn.), an Asiatic annual, belonging to
the Ranunculaceæ, grown to a limited extent in southern Europe, but
scarcely known in America. Among the Romans it was esteemed in cookery,
hence one of its common names, Roman coriander. The plant has a rather
stiff, erect, branching stem, bears deeply cut grayish-green leaves and
terminal grayish-blue flowers, which precede odd, toothed, seed vessels
filled with small, triangular, black, highly aromatic seeds. For garden
use the seed is sown in spring after the ground gets warm. The drills
may be 15 to 18 inches apart and the plants thinned to 10 or 12 inches
asunder. No special attention is necessary until midsummer, when the
seed ripens. These are easily threshed and cleaned. After drying they
should be stored in sacks in a cool, dry place. They are used just as
they are or like dill in cookery.[Pg 95]
Hoarhound, or horehound (Marrubium vulgare, Linn.), a perennial plant
of the natural order Labiatæ, formerly widely esteemed in cookery and
medicine, but now almost out of use except for making candy which some
people still eat in the belief that it relieves tickling in the throat
due to coughing. In many parts of the world hoarhound has become
naturalized on dry, poor soils, and is even a troublesome weed in such
situations. Bees are very partial to hoarhound nectar, and make a
pleasing honey from the flowers where these are abundant. This honey has
been almost as popular as hoarhound candy, and formerly was obtainable
at druggists. Except in isolated sections, it has ceased to be sold in
the drug stores. The generic name Marrubium is derived from a Hebrew
word meaning bitter. The flavor is so strong and lasting that the modern
palate wonders how the ancient mouth could stand such a thing in
The numerous branching, erect stems and the almost square, toothed,
grayish-green leaves are covered with a down from which the common name
hoarhound is derived. The white flowers, borne in axillary clusters
forming whorls and spikes, are followed by small, brown, oblong seeds
pointed at one end. These may be sown up to the third year after
ripening with the expectation that they will grow. Spring is the usual
time for sowing. A dry, poor soil, preferably exposed to the south,
should be chosen. The plants may stand 12 to 15 inches apart. After once
becoming established no further attention need be given except to
prevent seed form[Pg 96]ing, thus giving the plant less chance to become a
nuisance. Often the clumps may be divided or layers or cuttings may be
used for propagation. No protection need be given, as the plants are
An old author gives the following recipe for hoarhound candy: To one
pint of a strong decoction of the leaves and stems or the roots add 8 or
10 pounds of sugar. Boil to candy height and pour into molds or small
paper cases previously well dusted with finely powdered lump sugar, or
pour on dusted marble slabs and cut in squares.
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis, Linn.), a perennial evergreen undershrub
of the Labiatæ, native of the Mediterranean region. Though well known in
ancient times, this plant is probably not the one known as hyssop in
Biblical writings. According to the Standard Dictionary the Biblical
"hyssop" is "an unidentified plant ... thought by some to have been a
species of marjoram (Origanum maru); by others, the caper-bush
(Capparis spinosa); and by the author of the 'History of Bible
Plants,' to have been the name of any common article in the form of a
brush or a broom." In ancient and medieval times hyssop was grown for
its fancied medicinal qualities, for ornament and for cookery. Except
for ornament, it is now very little cultivated. Occasionally it is found
growing wild in other than Mediterranean countries.
Description.—The smooth, simple stems, which grow about 2 feet tall,
bear lanceolate-linear, entire leaves and small clusters of usually
blue, though sometimes pink or white flowers, crowded in terminal
spikes. The small, brown, glistening three-angled seeds, which have[Pg 97] a
little white hilum near their apices, retain their viability three
years. Leaves, stems and flowers possess a highly aromatic odor and a
hot, bitter flavor.
Cultivation.—Hyssop succeeds best in rather warm, limy soil. It may
be readily propagated by division, cuttings, and seed. In cold climates
the last way is the most common. Seed is sown in early spring, either in
a cold frame or in the open ground, and the seedlings transplanted in
early summer. Even where the plants survive the winters, it is advisable
to renew them every three or four years. When grown in too rich soil,
the growth will be very lush and will lack aroma. Plants should stand
not closer than 6 inches in the rows, which should be at least 18 inches
apart. They do best in partial shade.
Uses.—Hyssop has almost entirely disappeared from culinary practice
because it is too strong-flavored. Its tender leaves and shoots are,
however, occasionally added to salads, to supply a bitter taste. The
colorless oil distilled from the leaves has a peculiar odor and an
acrid, camphorescent taste. Upon contact with the air it turns yellow
and changes to a resin. From 400 to 500 pounds of the fresh plant yield
a pound of oil. The oil is used to some extent in the preparation of
Lavender, (Lavendula vera, D. C.; L. Angustifolia, Moench.; L.
spica, Linn.), a half-hardy perennial undershrub, native of dry,
calcareous uplands in southern Europe. Its name is derived from the
Latin word Lavo, to wash, a distillation of the flowers being
anciently used in perfuming water for washing the body. The plant forms
a compact clump 2 to 2½ feet[Pg 98] tall, has numerous erect stems, bearing
small, linear gray leaves, above which the slender, square, flower stems
arise. The small violet-blue flowers are arranged in a short, terminal
spike, and are followed by little brown, oblong, shiny seeds, with white
dots at the ends, attached to the plant. The seeds remain viable for
about five years.
Cultivation. - Lavender succeeds best on light, limy or chalky soil,
but will do well in any good loam. In gardens it is usually employed as
an edging for flower beds, and is most frequently propagated by division
or cuttings, seed being used only to get a start where plants cannot be
secured in the other ways mentioned. In cold climates the plants must
either be protected or removed to a greenhouse, or at least a cold
frame, which can be covered in severe weather. The seed is sown indoors
during March, and if crowding, pricked out 2 inches asunder. When the
ground has become warm, the plants are set in the open 15 to 20 inches
asunder. It delights in a sunny situation, and is most fragrant on poor
soil. Rich soil makes the plant larger but the flowers poorer in
Uses.—The plant is sometimes grown for a condiment and an addition to
salads, dressings, etc., but its chief use is in perfumery, the flowers
being gathered and either dried for use in sachet bags or distilled for
their content of oil. In former years no girl was supposed to be ready
for marriage until, with her own hands, she had made her own linen and
stored it with lavender. And in some sections[Pg 99] the lavender is still
used, though the linen is nowadays purchased.
In southern France and in England considerable areas are devoted to
lavender for the perfumery business. The flower stems are cut in August,
covered at once with bast matting to protect them from the sun and taken
to the stills to obtain the thin, pale yellow, fragrant oil.
Four-year-old plants yield the greatest amount of oil, but the product
is greater from a two-year plantation than from an older one, the plants
then being most vigorous. Two grades of oil are made, the best being
used for lavender water, the poorer for soap making. In a good season
about one pound of oil is obtained from 150 to 200 pounds of the cut
Lovage (Levisticum officinale, Koch.), a perennial, native of the
Mediterranean region. The large, dark-green, shining radical leaves are
usually divided into two or three segments. Toward the top the thick,
hollow, erect stems divide to form opposite, whorled branches which bear
umbels of yellow flowers, followed by highly aromatic, hollowed fruits
("seeds") with three prominent ribs. Propagation is by division or by
seeds not over three years old. In late summer when the seed ripens, it
is sown and the seedlings transplanted either in the fall or as early in
spring as possible to their permanent places. Rich, moist soil is
needed. Root division is performed in early spring. With cultivation and
alternation like that given to Angelica, the plants should last for
several years.[Pg 100]
Formerly lovage was used for a great variety of purposes, but nowadays
it is restricted almost wholly to confectionery, the young stems being
handled like those of Angelica. So far as I have been able to learn, the
leaf stalks and stem bases, which were formerly blanched like celery,
are no longer used in this way.
Marigold (Calendula officinalis, Linn.), an annual herb of the natural
order Compositæ, native of southern Europe. Its Latin name, suggestive
of its flowering habit, signifies blooming through the months. Our word
calendar is of the same derivation. Its short stems, about 12 inches
tall, branch near their bases, bear lanceolate, oblong, unpleasantly
scented leaves, and showy yellow or orange flowers in heads. The curved,
gray seeds, which are rough, wrinkled and somewhat spiny, retain their
germinating power for about three years.
Cultivation.—For the garden the seed is usually started in a hotbed
during March or April and the plants pricked out in flats 2 inches apart
and hardened off in the usual way. When the weather becomes settled they
are set a foot or 15 inches apart in rather poor soil, preferably light
and sandy, with sunny exposure. Often the seed is sown in the open and
the seedlings thinned and transplanted when about 2 inches tall.
Uses.—The flower heads are sometimes dried and used in broths, soups,
stews, etc., but the flavor is too pronounced for American palates. One
gardener remarked that "only a few plants are needed by a family." I
think that two would produce about[Pg 101] twice as much as I would care to use
in a century. For culinary use the flowers are gathered when in full
bloom, dried in the shade and stored in glass jars. The fresh flowers
have often been used to color butter.
The marigold, "homely forgotten flower, under the rose's bower, plain as
a weed," to quote Bayard Taylor, is a general favorite flowering plant,
especially in country gardens. It is so easily grown, is so free a
bloomer, and under ordinary management continues from early summer until
even hard frosts arrive, that busy farmers wives and daughters love it.
Then, too, it is one of the old-fashioned flowers, about which so many
happy thoughts cling. What more beautiful and suggestive lines could one
wish than these:
"The marigold, whose courtier's face
Echoes the sun, and doth unlace
Her at his rise, at his full stop
Packs up and shuts her gaudy shop."
"On Phillis Walking before Sunrise"
"Youth! Youth! how buoyant are thy hopes! They turn
Like marigolds toward the sunny side,"
"The Four Bridges"
Marjoram.—Two species of marjoram now grown for culinary purposes
(several others were formerly popular) are members of the Labiatæ or
mint family—pot or perennial marjoram (Origanum vulgare, Linn.) and
sweet or annual (O. Marjorana). Really, both plants are perennials,
but sweet marjoram,[Pg 102] because of its liability to be killed by frost, is
so commonly cultivated in cold countries as an annual that it has
acquired this name, which readily distinguishes it from its hardy
relative. Perennial marjoram is a native of Europe, but has become
naturalized in many cool and even cold temperate climates. It is often
found wild in the Atlantic states in the borders of woods.
The general name origanum, meaning delight of the mountain, is derived
from two Greek words, oros, mountain; and ganos, joy, some of the
species being found commonly upon mountain sides. Under cultivation it
has developed a few varieties the most popular of which are a variegated
form used for ornamental purposes, and a dwarf variety noted for its
ability to come true to seed. Both varieties are used in cookery. The
perennial species seems to have had the longer association with
civilization; at least it is the one identified in the writings of
Pliny, Albertus Magnus and the English herbalists of the middle ages.
Annual marjoram is thought to be the species considered sacred in India
to Vishnu and Siva.[Pg 103]
Description.—Perennial marjoram rises even 2 feet high, in branchy
clumps, bears numerous short-stemmed, ovate leaves about 1 inch long,
and terminal clusters or short spikes of little, pale lilac or pink
blossoms and purple bracts. The oval, brown seeds are very minute. They
are, however, heavy for their size, since a quart of them weighs about
24 ounces. I am told that an ounce contains more than 340,000, and would
rather believe than be forced to prove it.
Annual marjoram is much more erect, more bush-like, has smaller,
narrower leaves, whiter flowers, green bracts and larger, but lighter
seeds—only 113,000 to the ounce and only 20 ounces to the quart!
Cultivation.—Perennial marjoram when once established may be readily
propagated by cuttings, division or layers, but it is so easy to grow
from seed that this method is usually employed. There is little danger
of its becoming a weed, because the seedlings are easily destroyed while
small. The seed should be sown during March or April in flats or beds
that can be protected from rain. It is merely dusted on the surface, the
soil being pressed down slightly with a board or a brick. Until the
seedlings appear, the bed should be shaded to check evaporation. When
the plants are 2 or 3 inches tall they may be transplanted to the places
where they are to remain, as they are not so easy to transplant as
lettuce and geraniums. The work should be done while the plants are very
small, and larger numbers should be set than will ultimately be allowed
to grow. I have[Pg 104] had no difficulty in transplanting, but some people who
have had prefer to sow the seed where the plants are to stand.
If to be used for edging, the dwarf plants may be set 3 or 6 inches
apart; the larger kinds require a foot or 15 inches in which to develop.
In field cultivation the greater distance is the more desirable. From
the very start the plants must be kept free from weeds and the soil
loose and open. Handwork is essential until they become established. The
plants will last for years.
Annual marjoram is managed in the same kind of way as to seeding and
cultivation; but as the plant is tender, fresh sowings must be made
annually. To be sure, plants may be taken up in the fall and used for
making cuttings or layers towards spring for the following seasons beds.
As annual marjoram is somewhat smaller than the perennial kind (except
the dwarf perennial variety), the distances may be somewhat less, say 9
or 10 inches. Annual marjoram is a quick-growing plant—so quick, in
fact, that leaves may be secured within six or eight weeks of sowing.
The flowers appear in 10 to 12 weeks, and the seed ripens soon after.
When it is desired to cure the leaves for winter use, the stems should
be cut just as the flowers begin to appear, and dried in the usual
manner. (See page 25.) If seed is wanted, they should be cut soon after
the flowers fall or even before all have fallen—when the scales around
the seeds begin to look as if drying. The cut stems must be dried on
sheets of very fine weave, to prevent loss[Pg 105] of seed. When the leaves are
thoroughly dry they must be thrashed and rubbed before being placed in
sieves, first of coarse, and then of finer mesh.
Uses.—The leaves and the flower and tender stem tips of both species
have a pleasant odor, and are used for seasoning soups, stews, dressings
and sauces. They are specially favored in France and Italy, but are
popular also in England and America. In France marjoram is cultivated
commercially for its oil, a thin, light yellow or greenish liquid, with
the concentrated odor of marjoram and peppermint. It has a warm, and
slightly bitter taste. About 200 pounds of stems and leaves are needed
to get a pound of oil. Some distillation is done in England, where 70
pounds of the plant yield about one ounce of oil. This oil is used for
perfuming toilet articles, especially soap, but is perhaps less popular
than the essential oil of thyme.
Mint (Mentha viridis, Linn.)—Spearmint, a member of the Labiatæ, is a
very hardy perennial, native to Mediterranean countries. Its generic
name is derived from the mythological origin ascribed to it. Poets
declared that Proserpine became jealous of Cocytus's daughter, Minthe,
whom she transformed into the plant. The specific name means green,
hence the common name, green mint, often applied to it. The old Jewish
law did not require that tithes of "mint, anise and cumin" should be
paid in to the treasury, but the Pharisees paid them while omitting the
weightier matters, justice, mercy, and faith (Matthew xxiii, 23). From
this and many other references in old writings it is evident that mint
has been[Pg 106] highly esteemed for many centuries. In the seventeenth century
John Gerarde wrote concerning it that "the smelle rejoyceth the heart of
man." Indeed, it has been so universally esteemed that it is found wild
in nearly all countries to which civilization has extended. It has been
known as an escape from American gardens for about 200 years, and is
sometimes troublesome as a weed in moist soil.
Mint, Best Friend
of Roast Lamb
Description.—From creeping rootstocks erect square stems rise to a
height of about 2 feet, and near their[Pg 107] summits bear spreading branches
with very short-stemmed, acute-pointed, lance-shaped, wrinkled leaves
with toothed edges, and cylindrical spikes of small pink or lilac
flowers, followed by very few, roundish, minute, brown seeds.
Cultivation.—The plant may be easily propagated by means of cuttings,
offsets and division in spring. They may be expected to yield somewhat
of a crop the first season, but much more the second. In field culture
they will continue profitable for several years, provided that each
autumn the tops are cut off near the ground and a liberal dressing of
manure, compost or even rich soil is given. In ordinary garden practice
it is well also to observe this plan, but usually mint is there allowed
to shift for itself, along with the horseradish and the Jerusalem
artichoke when such plants are grown. So treated, it is likely to give
trouble, because, having utilized the food in one spot, its stems seek
to migrate to better quarters. Hence, if the idea is to neglect the
plants, a corner of the garden should be chosen where there is no danger
of their becoming a nuisance. It is best to avoid all such trouble by
renewing or changing the beds every 5 or 6 years.
Mint will grow anywhere but does best in a moist, rich loam and partial
shade. If in a sheltered spot, it will start earlier in the spring than
if exposed. Upon an extensive scale the drills should be 2 inches deep
and 12 to 15 inches apart. Bits of the rootstocks are dropped at
intervals of 6 to 12 inches in the rows and covered with a wheel hoe.
For a new[Pg 108] plantation the rootstocks should be secured when the stems
have grown 2 or 3 inches tall.
For forcing, the clumps are lifted in solid masses, with the soil
attached, and placed in hotbeds or forcing house benches. Three or four
inches of moist soil is worked in among and over them and watered freely
as soon as growth starts. Cuttings may be made in two or three weeks.
Often mint is so grown in lettuce and violet houses both upon and under
the benches. During winter and spring there is enough of a demand for
the young tender stems and leaves to make the plants pay. It is said
that the returns from an ordinary 3 x 6-foot hotbed sash should be $10
to $15 for the winter. For drying, the stems should be cut on a dry day
when the plants are approaching full bloom and after the dew has
disappeared in the morning. They should be spread out very thinly in the
shade or in an airy shed. (See page 25.) If cut during damp weather,
there is danger of the leaves turning black.
Uses.—In both the green and the dried state mint is widely used in
Europe for flavoring soups, stews and sauces for meats of unpronounced
character. Among the Germans pulverized mint is commonly upon the table
in cruets for dusting upon gravies and soups, especially pea and bean
In England and America the most universal use of mint is for making mint
sauce, the sauce par excellence with roast spring lamb. Nothing can
be simpler than to mince the tender tops and leaves very, very finely,
add to vinegar and sweeten to taste. Many people fancy they don't like
roast lamb. The[Pg 109] chances are that they have never eaten it with wellmade
mint sauce. In recent years mint jelly has been taking the place of the
sauce, and perhaps justly, because it can not only be kept indefinitely
without deterioration, but because it looks and is more tempting. It may
be made by steeping mint leaves in apple jelly or in one of the various
kinds of commercial gelatins so popular for making cold fruit puddings.
The jelly should be a delicate shade of green. Of course, before pouring
into the jelly glasses, the liquid is strained through a jelly bag to
remove all particles of mint. A handful of leaves should color and
flavor four to six glasses full.
Parsley (Carum Petroselinum, Linn.), a hardy biennial herb of the
natural order Umbelliferæ, native to Mediterranean shores, and
cultivated for at least 2,000 years. The specific name is derived from
the habitat of the plant, which naturally grows among rocks, the Greek
word for which is petros. Many of the ancient writings contain
references to it, and some give directions for its cultivation. The
writings of the old herbalists of the 15th century show that in their
times it had already developed several well-defined forms and numerous
varieties, always a sure sign that a plant is popular. Throughout the
world today it is unquestionably the most widely grown of all garden
herbs, and has the largest number of varieties. In moist, moderately
cool climates, it may be found wild as a weed, but nowhere has it become
"Ah! the green parsley, the thriving tufts of dill;
These again shall rise, shall live the coming year."
Description.—Like most biennials, parsley develops only a rosette of
leaves during the first year. These leaves are dark green, long stalked
and divided two or three times into ovate, wedge-shaped segments, and
each division either entire, as in parsnip, or more or less finely cut
or "curled." During the second season the erect, branched, channeled
flower stems rise 2 feet or more high, and at their extremities bear
umbels of little greenish flowers. The fruits or "seeds" are light brown
or gray, convex on one side and flat on the other two, the convex[Pg 111] side
marked with fine ribs. They retain their germinating power for three
years. An interesting fact, observed by Palladius in 210 A. D., is that
old seed germinates more freely than freshly gathered seed.
Cultivation.—Parsley is so easily grown that no garden, and indeed no
household, need be without it. After once passing the infant stage no
difficulty need be experienced. It will thrive in any ordinary soil and
will do well in a window box with only a moderate amount of light, and
that not even direct sunshine. Gardeners often grow it beneath benches
in greenhouses, where it gets only small amounts of light. No one need
hesitate to plant it.
The seed is very slow in germinating, often requiring four to six weeks
unless soaked before sowing. A full day's soaking in tepid water is none
too long to wake up the germs. The drills may be made in a cold frame
during March or in the open ground during April.
It is essential that parsley be sown very early in order to germinate at
all. If sown late, it may possibly not get enough moisture to sprout,
and if so it will fail completely. When sown in cold frames or beds for
transplanting, the rows may be only 3 or 4 inches apart, though it is
perhaps better, when such distances are chosen, to sow each alternate
row to forcing radishes, which will have been marketed by the time the
parsley seedlings appear. In the open ground the drills should be 12 to
15 inches apart, and the seed planted somewhat deeper and farther apart
than in the presumably better-[Pg 112]prepared seedbed or cold frame. One inch
between seeds is none too little.
In field culture and at the distances mentioned six or seven pounds of
seed will be needed for the acre. For cultivation on a smaller scale an
ounce may be found sufficient for 50 to 100 feet of drill. This quantity
should be enough for any ordinary-sized family. In all open ground
culture the radish is the parsley's best friend, because it not only
marks the rows, and thus helps early cultivation, but the radishes
break, loosen and shade the soil and thus aid the parsley plants.
When the first thinning is done during May, the parsley plants may be
allowed to stand 2 inches asunder. When they begin to crowd at this
distance each second plant may be removed and sold. Four to six little
plants make a bunch. The roots are left on. This thinning will not only
aid the remaining plants, but should bring enough revenue to pay the
cost, perhaps even a little more. The first cutting of leaves from
plants of field-sown seed should be ready by midsummer, but as noted
below it is usually best to practice the method that will hasten
maturity and thus catch the best price. A "bunch" is about the amount
that can be grasped between the thumb and the first finger, 10 to 15
It is usual to divide the field into three parts so as to have a
succession of cuttings. About three weeks are required for a new crop of
leaves to grow and mature after the plants have been cut. Larger yields
can be secured by cutting only the fully ma[Pg 113]tured leaves, allowing the
others to remain and develop for later cuttings. Three or four times as
much can be gathered from a given area in this way. All plain leaves of
such plants injure the appearance and reduce the price of the bunches
when offered for sale.
If protected from frost, the plants will yield all winter. They may be
easily transplanted in cold frames. These should be placed in some warm,
sheltered spot and the plants set in them 4 by 6 inches. Mats or
shutters will be needed in only the coldest weather. Half a dozen to a
dozen stalks make the usual bunch and retail for 2 or 3 cents.
In the home garden, parsley may be sown as an edging for flower beds and
borders. For such purpose it is best to sow the seed thickly during late
October or November in double rows close together, say 3 or 4 inches.
Sown at that time, the plants may be expected to appear earlier than if
spring sown and to form a ribbon of verdure which will remain green not
only all the growing season, but well into winter if desired. It is
best, however, to dig them up in the fall and resow for the year
For window culture, all that is needed is a box filled with rich soil.
The roots may be dug in the fall and planted in the box. A sunny window
is best, but any window will do. If space is at a premium, a nail keg
may be made to yield a large amount of leaves. Not only may the tops be
filled with plants, but the sides also. Holes should be bored in the
staves about 4 inches apart. (See[Pg 114] illustration, page 2.) A layer of
earth is placed in the bottom as deep as the lowest tier of holes. Then
roots are pushed through these holes and a second layer of earth put in.
The process is repeated till the keg is full. Then plants are set on the
top. As the keg is being filled the earth should be packed very firmly,
both around the plants and in the keg. When full the soil should be
thoroughly soaked and allowed to drain before being taken to the window.
To insure a supply of water for all the plants, a short piece of pipe
should be placed in the center of the keg so as to reach about half way
toward the bottom. This will enable water to reach the plants placed in
the lower tiers of holes. If the leaves look yellow at any time, they
may need water or a little manure water.
As parsley is grown for its leaves, it can scarcely be over fertilized.
Like cabbage, but, of course, upon a smaller scale, it is a gross
feeder. It demands that plenty of nitrogenous food be in the soil. That
is, the soil should be well supplied with humus, preferably derived from
decaying leguminous crops or from stable manure. A favorite commercial
fertilizer for parsley consists of 3 per cent nitrogen, 8 per cent
potash and 9 per cent phosphoric acid applied in the drills at the
rate of 600 to 900 pounds to the acre in two or three
applications—especially the nitrogen, to supply which nitrate of soda
is the most popular material.
A common practice among market gardeners in the neighborhood of New York
has been to sow the seed in their cold frames between rows of lettuce[Pg 115]
transplanted during March or early April. The lettuce is cut in May, by
which time the parsley is getting up. When grown by this plan the crop
may be secured four or five weeks earlier than if the seed is sown in
the open ground. The first cutting may be made during June. After this
first cutting has been made the market usually becomes overstocked and
the price falls, so many growers do not cut again until early September
when they cut and destroy the leaves preparatory to securing an autumn
and winter supply.
When the weather becomes cool and when the plants have developed a new
and sturdy rosette of leaves, they are transplanted in shallow trenches
either in cold frames, in cool greenhouses (lettuce and violet houses),
under the benches of greenhouses, or, in fact, any convenient place that
is not likely to prove satisfactory for growing plants that require more
heat and light.
This method, it must be said, is not now as popular near the large
cities as before the development of the great trucking fields in the
Atlantic coast states; but it is a thoroughly practical plan and well
worth practicing in the neighborhood of smaller cities and towns not
adequately supplied with this garnishing and flavoring herb.
A fair return from a cold frame to which the plants have been
transplanted ranges from $3 to $7 during the winter months. Since many
sashes are stored during this season, such a possible return deserves to
be considered. The total annual yield from an acre by this method may
vary from $500 to[Pg 116] $800 or even more—gross. By the ordinary field
method from $150 to $300 is the usual range. Instead of throwing away
the leaves cut in September, it should be profitable to dry these leaves
and sell them in tins or jars for flavoring.
When it is desired to supply the demand for American seed, which is
preferred to European, the plants may be managed in any of the ways
already mentioned, either allowed to remain in the field or transplanted
to cold frames, or greenhouses. If left in the field, they should be
partially buried with litter or coarse manure. As the ground will not be
occupied more than a third of the second season, a crop of early beets,
forcing carrots, radishes, lettuce or some other quick-maturing crop may
be sown between the rows of parsley plants. Such crops will mature by
the time the parsley seed is harvested in late May or early June, and
the ground can then be plowed and fitted for some late crop such as
early maturing but late-sown sweet corn, celery, dwarf peas, late beets
or string beans.
When seed is desired, every imperfect or undesirable plant should be
rooted out and destroyed, so that none but the best can fertilize each
other. In early spring the litter must be either removed from the plants
and the ground between the rows given a cultivation to loosen the
surface, or it may be raked between the rows and allowed to remain until
after seed harvest. In this latter case, of course, no other crop can be
Like celery seed, parsley seed ripens very irregularly, some umbels
being ready to cut from one to[Pg 117] three weeks earlier than others. This
quality of the plant may be bred out by keeping the earliest maturing
seed separate from the later maturing and choosing this for producing
subsequent seed crops. By such selection one to three weeks may be saved
in later seasons, a saving of time not to be ignored in gardening
In ordinary seed production the heads are cut when the bulk of the seed
is brown or at least dark colored. The stalks are cut carefully, to
avoid shattering the seed off. They are laid upon sheets of duck or
canvas and threshed very lightly, at once, to remove only the ripest
seed. Then the stalks are spread thinly on shutters or sheets in the sun
for two days and threshed again. At that time all seed ripe enough to
germinate will fall off. Both lots of seed must be spread thinly on the
sheets in an airy shed or loft and turned daily for 10 days or two weeks
to make sure they are thoroughly dry before being screened in a fanning
mill and stored in sacks hung in a loft.
Varieties.—There are four well-defined groups of parsley varieties;
common or plain, curled or moss-leaved, fern-leaved, and Hamburg. The
last is also known as turnip-rooted or large-rooted. The objections to
plain parsley are that it is not as ornamental as moss-leaved or
fern-leaved sorts, and because it may be mistaken for fools parsley, a
plant reputed to be more or less poisonous.
In the curled varieties the leaves are more or less deeply cut and the
segments reflexed to a greater or less extent, sometimes even to the
extent of showing[Pg 118] the lighter green undersides. In this group are
several subvarieties, distinguished by minor differences, such as extent
of reflexing and size of the plants.
In the fern-leaved group the very dark green leaves are not curled but
divided into numerous threadlike segments which give the plant a very
delicate and dainty appearance.
Hamburg, turnip-rooted or large-rooted parsley, is little grown in
America. It is not used as a garnish or an herb, but the root is cooked
as a vegetable like carrots or beets. These roots resemble those of
parsnips. They are often 6 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Their
cultivation is like that of parsnips. They are cooked and served like
carrots. In flavor, they resemble celeriac or turnip-rooted celery, but
are not so pleasing. In Germany the plant is rather popular, but, except
by our German gardeners, it has been little cultivated in this country.
Uses.—The Germans use both roots and tops for cooking; the former as
a boiled vegetable, the latter as a potherb. In English cookery the
leaves are more extensively used for seasoning fricassees and dressings
for mild meats, such as chicken and veal, than perhaps anything else. In
American cookery parsley is also popular for this purpose, but is most
extensively used as a garnish. In many countries the green leaves are
mixed with salads to add flavor. Often, especially among the Germans,
the minced green leaves are mixed with other vegetables just before
being served. For instance, if a liberal dusting of finely minced
parsley be added to peeled, boiled potatoes, immediately after draining,
this[Pg 119] vegetable will seem like a new dish of unusual delicacy. The
potatoes may be either served whole or mashed with a little butter, milk
Pennyroyal (Mentha Pulegium, Linn.), a perennial herb of the natural
order Labiatæ, native of Europe and parts of Asia, found wild and
naturalized throughout the civilized world in strong, moist soil on the
borders of ponds and streams. Its square, prostrate stems, which readily
take root at the nodes, bear roundish-oval, grayish-green, slightly
hairy leaves and small lilac-blue flowers in whorled clusters of ten or
a dozen, rising in tiers, one above another, at the nodes. The seed is
light brown, oval and very small. Like most of its near relatives,
pennyroyal is highly aromatic, perhaps even more so than any other mint.
The flavor is more pungent and acrid and less agreeable than that of
spearmint or peppermint.
Ordinarily the plant is propagated by division like mint, or more rarely
by cuttings. Cultivation is the same as that of mint. Plantations
generally last for four or five years, and even longer, when well
managed and on favorable soil. In England it is more extensively
cultivated than in America for drying and for its oil, of which latter a
yield of 12 pounds to the acre is considered good. The leaves, green or
dried, are used abroad to flavor puddings and other culinary
preparations, but the taste and odor are usually not pleasant to
American and English palates and noses.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita, Linn.) is much the same in habit of
growth as spearmint. It is a native of northern Europe, where it may be
found in moist[Pg 120] situations along stream banks and in waste lands. In
America it is probably even more common as an escape than spearmint.
Like its relative, it has long been known and grown in gardens and
fields, especially in Europe, Asia and the United States.
Description.—Like spearmint, the plant has creeping rootstocks, which
rapidly extend it, and often make it a troublesome weed in moist ground.
The stems are smaller than those of spearmint, not so tall, and are more
purplish. They bear ovate, smooth leaves upon longer stalks than those
of spearmint. The whorled clusters of little, reddish-violet flowers
form loose, interrupted spikes. No seed is borne.
Cultivation.—Although peppermint prefers wet, even swampy, soil, it
will do well on moist loam. It is cultivated like spearmint. In
Michigan, western New York and other parts of the country it is grown
commercially upon muck lands for the oil distilled from its leaves and
stems. Among essential oils, peppermint ranks first in importance. It is
a colorless, yellowish or greenish liquid, with a peculiar, highly
penetrating odor and a burning, camphorescent taste. An interesting use
is made of it by sanitary engineers, who test the tightness of pipe
joints by its aid. It has the faculty of making its escape and betraying
the presence of leaks. It is largely employed in the manufacture of
soaps and perfumery, but probably its best known use is for flavoring
Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis, Linn.)—As its generic name
implies, rosemary is a native of sea-[Pg 121]coasts, "rose" coming from Ros,
dew, and "Mary" from marinus, ocean. It is one of the many Labiatæ
found wild in limy situations along the Mediterranean coast. In ancient
times many and varied virtues were ascribed to the plant, hence its
"officinalis" or medical name, perhaps also the belief that "where
rosemary flourishes, the lady rules!" Pliny, Dioscorides and Galin all
write about it. It was cultivated by the Spaniards in the 13th century,
and from the 15th to the 18th century was popular as a condiment with
salt meats, but has since declined in popularity, until now it is used
for seasoning almost exclusively in Italian, French, Spanish and German
Description.—The plant is a half-hardy evergreen, 2 feet or more
tall. The erect, branching, woody stems bear a profusion of little
obtuse, linear leaves, green above and hoary white beneath. On their
upper parts they bear pale blue, axillary flowers in leafy clusters. The
light-brown seeds, white where they were attached to the plant, will
germinate even when four years old. All parts of the plant are
fragrant—"the humble rosemary whose sweets so thanklessly are shed to
scent the desert" (Thomas Moore). One of the pleasing superstitions
connected with this plant is that it strengthens the memory. Thus it has
become the emblem of remembrance and fidelity. Hence the origin of the
old custom of wearing it at weddings in many parts of Europe.
"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray, love, remember:
And there is pansies, that's for thoughts."
—Hamlet, Act iv, Scene 5.
Cultivation.—Rosemary is easily propagated by means of cuttings, root
division and layers in early spring, but is most frequently multiplied
by seed. It does best in rather poor, light soil, especially if limy.
The seed is either sown in drills 18 to 24 inches apart or in checks 2
feet asunder each way, half a dozen seeds being dropped in each "hill."
Sometimes the seedbed method is employed, the seed being sown either
under glass or in the open ground and the seedlings transplanted.
Cultivation consists in keeping the soil loose and open and free from
weeds. No special directions are necessary as to curing. In frostless
sections, and even where protected by buildings, fences, etc., in
moderate climates, the plants will continue to thrive for years.
Uses.—The tender leaves and stems and the flowers are used for
flavoring stews, fish and meat sauces, but are not widely popular in
America. Our foreign-born population, however, uses it somewhat. In
France large quantities, both cultivated and wild, are used for
distilling the oil of rosemary, a colorless or yellowish liquid
suggesting camphor, but even more pleasant. This oil is extensively used
in perfuming soaps, but more especially in the manufacture of eau de
cologne, Hungary water and other perfumes.
Rue (Ruta graveolens, Linn.), a hardy perennial herb of roundish,
bushy habit, native of southern Europe. It is a member of the same
botanical family as the orange, Rutaceæ. In olden times it was highly
reputed for seasoning and for medicine among the Greeks and the Romans.
In Pliny's time it was considered to be effectual for 84 maladies!
Today[Pg 123] it "hangs only by its eyelids" to our pharmacopœia. Apicus
notes it among the condiments in the third century, and Magnus eleven
centuries later praises it among the garden esculents. At present it is
little used for seasoning, even by the Italians and the Germans, and
almost not at all by English and American cooks. Probably because of its
acridity and its ability to blister the skin when much handled, rue has
been chosen by poets to express disdain. Shakespeare speaks of it as the
"sour herb of grace," and Theudobach says:
"When a rose is too haughty for heaven's dew
She becometh a spider's gray lair;
And a bosom, that never devotion knew
Or affection divine, shall be filled with rue
And with darkness, and end with despair."
Description.—The much branched stems, woody below, rise 18 to 24
inches and bear small oblong or obovate, stalked, bluish-green glaucous
leaves, two or three times divided, the terminal one broader and notched
at the end. The rather large, greenish-yellow flowers, borne in corymbs
or short terminal clusters, appear all summer. In the round, four or
five-lobed seed vessels are black kidney-shaped seeds, which retain
their vitality two years or even longer. The whole plant has a very
acrid, bitter taste and a pungent smell.
Cultivation.—The plant may be readily propagated by means of seed, by
cuttings, by layers, and by division of the tufts. No special directions
are needed, except to say that when in the place they are to remain the
plants should be at least 18 inches[Pg 124] apart—21 or 24 inches each way
would be even better. Rue does well on almost any well-drained soil, but
prefers a rather poor clayey loam. It is well, then, to plant it in the
most barren part of the garden. As the flowers are rather attractive,
rue is often used among shrubbery for ornamental purposes. When so grown
it is well to cut the stems close to the ground every two or three
Rue, Sour Herb of Grace
Uses.—Because of the exceedingly strong smell of the leaves, rue is
disagreeable to most Americans, and could not become popular as a
seasoning. Yet it is used to a small extent by people who like bitter
flavors, not only in culinary preparations, but in[Pg 125] beverages. The whole
plant is used in distilling a colorless oil which is used in making
aromatic vinegars and other toilet preparations. A pound of oil may be
secured from 150 to 200 pounds of the plant.
Sage (Salvia officinalis, Linn.), a perennial member of the Labiatæ,
found naturally on dry, calcareous hills in southern Europe, and
northern Africa. In ancient times, it was one of the most highly
esteemed of all plants because of its reputed health-insuring
properties. An old adage reads, "How can a man die in whose garden sage
is growing?" Its very names betoken the high regard in which it was
held; salvia is derived from salvus, to be safe, or salveo, to be in
good health or to heal; (hence also salvation!) and officinalis stamps
its authority or indicates its recognized official standing. The name
sage, meaning wisdom, appears to have had a different origin, but as the
plant was reputed to strengthen the memory, there seems to be ground for
believing that those who ate the plant would be wise.
Description.—The almost woody stems rise usually 15 to 18 inches
high, though in Holt's Mammoth double these sizes is not uncommon. The
leaves are oblong, pale green, finely toothed, lance-shaped, wrinkled
and rough. The usually bluish-lilac, sometimes pink or white flowers,
borne in the axils of the upper leaves in whorls of three or four, form
loose terminal spikes or clusters. Over 7,000 of the small globular,
almost black seeds, which retain their vitality about three years, are
required to weigh an ounce, and nearly 20 ounces to the quart.
Cultivation.—Sage does best upon mellow well-[Pg 127][Pg 126]drained soil of
moderate fertility. For cultivation on a large scale the soil should be
plowed deeply and allowed to remain in the rough furrows during the
winter, to be broken up as much as possible by the frost. In the spring
it should be fined for the crop. Sage is easily propagated by division,
layers and cuttings, but these ways are practiced on an extensive scale
only with the Holt's Mammoth variety, which produces no seed. For other
varieties seed is most popular. This is sown in drills at the rate of
two seeds to the inch and covered about ¼ inch deep. At this rate and
in rows 15 inches apart about 8 pounds of seed will be needed to the
Sage, the Leading Herb for Duck and Goose Dressing
Usually market gardeners prefer to grow sage as a second crop. They
therefore raise the plants in nursery beds. The seed is sown in very
early spring, not thicker than already mentioned, but in rows closer
together, 6 to 9 inches usually. From the start the seedlings are kept
clean cultivated and encouraged to grow stocky. By late May or early
June the first sowings of summer vegetables will have been marketed and
the ground ready for the sage. The ground is then put in good condition
and the sage seedlings transplanted 6 or 8 inches apart usually. Clean
cultivation is maintained until the sage has possession.
When the plants meet, usually during late August, the alternate ones are
cut, bunched and sold. At this time one plant should make a good bunch.
When the rows meet in mid-September, the alternate rows are marketed, a
plant then making about two bunches. By the middle of October the final[Pg 128]
cutting may be started, when the remaining plants should be large enough
to make about three bunches each. This last cutting may continue well
into November without serious loss of lower leaves. If the plants are
not thinned, but are allowed to crowd, the lower leaves will turn yellow
and drop off, thus entailing loss.
Relative Sizes of
Holt's Mammoth and Common
For cultivation with hand-wheel hoes the plants in the rows should not
stand closer than 2 inches at first. As soon as they touch, each second
one should be removed and this process repeated till, when growing in a
commercial way, each alternate row has been removed. Finally, the plants
should be 12 to 15 inches apart. For cultivation by horse the rows will
need to be farther apart than already noted; 18 to 24 inches is the
usual range of distances. When grown on a large scale, sage usually
follows field-grown lettuce, early peas or early cabbage. If not cut too
closely or too late in the season sage plants stand a fair chance to
survive moderate winters. The specimens which succeed in doing so may be
divided and transplanted to new soil with little trouble. This is the
common practice in home gardens, and is usually more satisfactory than
growing a new lot of plants from seed each spring.
For drying or for decocting the leaves are cut when the flowers appear.
They are dried in the shade. If a second cutting is to be made, and if
it is desired that the plants shall live over winter, this second
cutting must not be made later than September in the North, because the
new stems will not have time to mature before frost, and the plants will
probably winterkill.[Pg 129]
Sage seed is produced in open cups on slender branches, which grow well
above the leaves. It turns black when ripe. The stems which bear it
should be cut during a dry afternoon as soon as the seeds are ripe and
placed on sheets to cure; and several cuttings are necessary, because
the seed ripens unevenly. When any one lot of stems on a sheet is dry a
light flail or a rod will serve to beat the seed loose. Then small
sieves and a gentle breeze will separate the seed from the trash. After
screening the seed should be spread on a sheet in a warm, airy place for
a week or so to dry still more before being stored in cloth sacks. A
fair yield of leaves may be secured after seed has been gathered.
Uses.—Because of their highly aromatic odor sage leaves have long
been used for seasoning dressings, especially to disguise the too great
lusciousness of strong meats, such as pork, goose and duck. It is one of
the most important flavoring ingredients in certain kinds of sausage and
cheese. In France the whole herb is used to distill with water in order
to secure essential oil of sage, a greenish-yellow liquid employed in
perfumery. About 300 pounds of the stems and leaves yield one pound of
Samphire (Crithmum maritimum, Linn.), a Euro[Pg 130]pean perennial of the
Umbelliferæ, common along rocky sea coasts and cliffs beyond the reach
of the tide. From its creeping rootstocks short, sturdy, more or less
widely branched stems arise. These bear two or three thick, fleshy
segmented leaves and umbels of small whitish flowers, followed by
yellow, elliptical, convex, ribbed, very light seeds, which rarely
retain their germinating power more than a year. In gardens the seed is
therefore generally sown in the autumn as soon as mature in fairly rich,
light, well-drained loam. The seedlings should be protected with a mulch
of straw,[Pg 131] leaves or other material during winter. After the removal of
the mulch in the spring no special care is needed in cultivation. The
young, tender, aromatic and saline leaves and shoots are pickled in
vinegar, either alone or with other vegetables.
Dainty Summer Savory
Savory, Summer (Satureia hortensis, Linn.), a little annual plant of
the natural order Labiatæ indigenous to Mediterranean countries and
known as an escape from gardens in various parts of the world. In
America, it is occasionally found wild on dry, poor soils in Ohio,
Illinois, and some of the western states. The generic name is derived
from an old Arabic name, Ssattar, by which the whole mint family was
known. Among the Romans both summer and winter savory were popular 2,000
years ago, not only for flavoring, but as potherbs. During the middle
ages and until the 18th century it still maintained this popularity. Up
to about 100 years ago it was used in cakes, puddings and confections,
but these uses have declined.
Description.—The plant, which rarely exceeds 12 inches in height, has
erect, branching, herbaceous stems, with oblong-linear leaves, tapering
at their bases, and small pink or white flowers clustered in the axils
of the upper leaves, forming penciled spikes. The small, brown, ovoid
seeds retain their viability about three years. An ounce contains about
42,500 of them, and a quart 18 ounces.
Cultivation.—For earliest use the seed may be sown in a spent hotbed
or a cold frame in late March, and the plants set in the open during
May. Usually, however, it is sown in the garden or the field where[Pg 132] the
plants are to remain. In the hotbed the rows may be 3 or 4 inches apart;
in the field they should be not less than 9 inches, and only this
distance when hand wheel-hoes are to be used, and each alternate row is
to be removed as soon as the plants begin to touch across the rows. Half
a dozen seeds dropped to the inch is fairly thick sowing. As the seed is
small, it must not be covered deeply; ¼ inch is ample. When the rows
are 15 inches apart about 4 pounds of seed will be needed to the acre.
For horse cultivation the drills should be 20 inches apart. Both summer
and winter savory do well on rather poor dry soils. If started in
hotbeds, the first plants may be gathered during May. Garden-sown seed
will produce plants by June. For drying, the nearly mature stems should
be cut just as the blossoms begin to appear. No special directions are
needed as to drying. (See page 25.)
Uses.—Both summer and winter savory are used in flavoring salads,
dressings, gravies, and sauces used with meats such as veal, pork, duck,
and goose and for increasing the palatability of such preparations as
croquettes, rissoles and stews. Summer savory is the better plant of the
two and should be in every home garden.
Savory, Winter (Satureia montana, Linn.), a semi-hardy, perennial,
very branching herb, native of southern Europe and northern Africa. Like
summer savory, it has been used for flavoring for many centuries, but is
not now as popular as formerly, nor is it as popular as summer savory.[Pg 133]
Description.—The numerous woody, slender, spreading stems, often more
than 15 inches tall, bear very acute, narrow, linear leaves and pale
lilac, pink, or white flowers in axillary clusters. The brown, rather
triangular seeds, which retain their vitality about three years, are
smaller than those of summer savory. Over 70,000 are in an ounce, and it
takes 15 ounces to fill a quart.
Cultivation.—Winter savory is readily propagated by means of
cuttings, layers and division as well as seeds. No directions different
from those relating to summer savory are necessary, except that seed of
winter savory should be sown where the plants are to remain, because the
seedlings do not stand transplanting very well. Seed is often sown in
late summer where the climate is not severe or where winter protection
is to be given. The plant is fairly hardy on dry soils. When once
established it will live for several years.
To increase the yield the stems may be cut to within 4 or 5 inches of
the ground when about ready to flower. New shoots will appear and may be
cut in turn. For drying, the first cutting may be secured during July,
the second in late August or September. In all respects winter savory is
used like summer savory, but is considered inferior in flavor.
Southernwood (Artemisia Abrotanum, Linn.), a woody-stemmed perennial
belonging to the Compositæ and a native of southern Europe. It grows
from 2 to 4 feet tall, bears hairlike, highly aromatic leaves and heads
of small yellow flowers. The plant is often found in old-fashioned
gardens as an orna[Pg 134]mental under the name of Old Man. In some countries
the young shoots are used for flavoring cakes and other culinary
Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare, Linn.), a perennial of the Compositæ, native
of Europe, whence it has spread with civilization as a weed almost all
over the world. From the very persistent underground parts annual,
usually unbranched stems, sometimes 3 feet tall, are produced in more or
less abundance. They bear much-divided, oval, oblong leaves and numerous
small, yellow flower-heads in usually crowded corymbs. The small, nearly
conical seeds have five gray ribs and retain their germinability for
about two years.
Tansy is easily propagated by division of the clumps or by seed sown in
a hotbed for the transplanting of seedlings. It does well in any
moderately fertile garden soil, but why anyone should grow it except for
ornament, either in the garden or as an inedible garnish, is more than I
can understand. While its odor is not exactly repulsive, its acrid,
bitter taste is such that a nibble, certainly a single leaf, would last
most people a lifetime. Yet some people use it to flavor puddings,
omelettes, salads, stews and other culinary dishes. Surely a peculiar
order of gustatory preference! It is said that donkeys will eat
thistles, but I have never known them to eat tansy, and I am free to
confess that I rather admire their preference for the thistles.
Tarragon, the French
Tarragon (Artemisia Dracunculus, Linn.), a fairly hardy, herbaceous
rather shrubby perennial of the Compositæ, supposed to be a native of
southern[Pg 135] Russia, Siberia, and Tartary, cultivated for scarcely more
than 500 years for its leaves and tender shoots. In all civilized
countries its popular name, like its specific name, means dragon, though
why it should be so called is not clear.
Description.—The plant has numerous branching stems, which bear
lance-shaped leaves and nowadays white, sterile flowers. Formerly the
flowers were said to be fertile. No one should buy the seed offered as
tarragon. It is probably that of a related plant which resembles
tarragon in everything except flavor—which is absent! Tagetes lucida,
which[Pg 136] may be used as a substitute for true tarragon, is easily
propagated by seed and can be procured from seedsmen under its own name.
As tarragon flowers appear to be perfect, it is possible that some
plants may produce a few seeds, and that plants raised from these seeds
may repeat the wonder. Indeed, a variety which naturally produces seed
may thus be developed and disseminated. Here is one of the possible
opportunities for the herb grower to benefit his fellow-men.
Cultivation.—At present tarragon is propagated only by cuttings,
layers and division. There is no difficulty in either process. The plant
prefers dry, rather poor soil, in a warm situation. In cold climates it
should be partially protected during the winter to prevent alternate
freezing and thawing of both the soil and the plant. In moist and heavy
soil it will winterkill. Strawy litter or conifer boughs will serve the
purpose well. Half a dozen to a dozen plants will supply the needs of a
family. As the plants spread a good deal and as they grow 15 to 18
inches tall, or even more, they should be set in rows 18 to 24 inches
apart each way. In a short time they will take possession of the ground.
Uses.—The tender shoots and the young leaves are often used in
salads, and with steaks, chops, etc., especially by the French. They are
often used as an ingredient in pickles. Stews, soups, croquettes, and
other meat preparations are also flavored with tarragon, and for
flavoring fish sauces it is especially esteemed.[Pg 137]
Probably the most popular way it is employed, however, is as a decoction
in vinegar. For this purpose, the green parts are gathered preferably in
the morning and after washing are placed in jars and covered with the
best quality vinegar for a few days. The vinegar is then drawn off as
needed. In France, the famous vinegar of Maille is made in this way.
The leaves may be dried in the usual way if desired. For this purpose
they are gathered in midsummer. A second cutting may be made in late
September or early October. Tarragon oil, which is used for perfuming
toilet articles, is secured by distilling the green parts, from 300 to
500 pounds of which yield one pound of oil.
Thyme for Sausage
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris, Linn.), a very diminutive perennial shrub, of
the natural order Labiatæ, native of dry, stony places on Mediterranean
coasts, but found occasionally naturalized as an escape from gardens in
civilized countries, both warm and cold. From early days it has been
popularly grown[Pg 138] for culinary purposes. The name is from the Greek word
thyo, or sacrifice, because of its use as incense to perfume the
temples. With the Romans it was very popular both in cookery and as a
bee forage. Like its relatives sage and marjoram, it has practically
disappeared from medicine, though formerly it was very popular because
of its reputed properties.
Description.—The procumbent, branched, slender, woody stems, which
seldom reach 12 inches, bear oblong, triangular, tapering leaves from
¼ to ½ inch long, green above and gray beneath. In the axils of the
upper leaves are little pink or lilac flowers, which form whorls and
loose, leafy spikes. The seeds, of which there are 170,000 to the ounce,
and 24 ounces to the quart, retain their germinating power for three
Cultivation.—Thyme does best in a rather dry, moderately fertile,
light soil well exposed to the sun. Cuttings, layers and divisions may
be made, but the popular way to propagate is by seed. Because the seed
is very small, it should be sown very shallow or only pressed upon the
surface and then sprinkled with finely sifted soil. A small seedbed
should be used in preference to sowing in the open ground first, because
better attention can be given such little beds; second, because the area
where the plants are ultimately to be can be used for an early-maturing
crop. In the seedbed made out of doors in early spring, the drills may
be made 4 to 6 inches apart and the seeds sown at the rate of 5 or 6 to
the inch. A pound should produce enough plants for an acre. In hand
sowing direct in the field, a fine[Pg 139] dry sand is often thoroughly mixed
with the seed to prevent too close planting. The proportion chosen is
sometimes as great as four times as much sand as seed. Whether sown
direct in the field or transplanted the plants should finally not stand
closer than 8 inches—10 is preferred. When first set they may be half
this distance. In a small way one plant to the square foot is a good
rate to follow. The young plants may be set in the field during June, or
even as late as July, preferably just before or just after a shower. The
alternate plants may be removed in late August or early September, the
alternate rows about three weeks later and the final crop in October.
Thyme will winter well. In home garden practice it may be treated like
sage. In the coldest climates it may be mulched with leaves or litter to
prevent undue thawing and freezing and consequent heaving of the soil.
In the spring the plants should be dug, divided and reset in a new
When seed is desired, the ripening tops must be cut frequently, because
the plants mature very unevenly. But this method is often more wasteful
than spreading cloths or sheets of paper beneath the plants and allowing
the seed to drop in them as it ripens. Twice a day, preferably about
noon, and in the late afternoon the plants should be gently jarred to
make the ripe seeds fall into the sheets. What falls should then be
collected and spread in a warm, airy room to dry thoroughly. When this
method is practiced the stems are cut finally; that is, when the bulk of
the seed has been gathered.[Pg 140] They are dried, threshed or rubbed and the
trash removed, by sifting. During damp weather the seed will not
separate readily from the plants.
Of the common thyme there are two varieties: narrow-leaved and
broad-leaved. The former, which has small grayish-green leaves, is more
aromatic and pleasing than the latter, which, however, is much more
popular, mainly because of its size, and not because of its superiority
to the narrow-leaved kind. It is also known as winter or German thyme.
The plant is taller and larger and has bigger leaves, flowers and seeds
than the narrow-leaved variety and is decidedly more bitter.
Uses.—The green parts, either fresh, dried or in decoction, are used
very extensively for flavoring soups, gravies, stews, sauces,
forcemeats, sausages, dressings, etc. For drying, the tender stems are
gathered after the dew is off and exposed to warm air in the shade. When
crisp they are rubbed, the trash removed and the powder placed in
stoppered bottles or tins. All parts of the plant are fragrant because
of the volatile oil, which is commercially distilled mainly in France.
About one per cent of the green parts is oil, which after distillation
is at first a reddish-brown fluid. It loses its color on redistillation
and becomes slightly less fragrant. Both grades of oil are used
commercially in perfumery. In the oil are also crystals (thymol), which
resemble camphor and because of their pleasant odor are used as a
disinfectant where the strong-smelling carbolic acid would be
Besides common thyme two other related species are cultivated to some
extent for culinary purposes. Lemon thyme (T. citriodorus, Pers.),
like its common relative, is a little undershrub, with procumbent stems
and with a particularly pleasing fragrance. Wild thyme, or
mother-of-thyme (T. serpyllum, Linn.), is a less grown perennial, with
violet or pink flowers. It is occasionally seen in country home gardens,
and is also used somewhat for seasoning.[Pg 143][Pg 142]
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Getting Started with Herb Gardening
Vaughan's Vegetable Cookbook