Article - French TarragonCommon Name: TARRAGON - FRENCH
Scientific Name: Artemisia dracunculus
The popular French Tarragon is a small, low-growing plant with many branched stems and smooth, narrow, dark green leaves, with a subtle peppery-sweet, liquorice-like aroma.
This half-hardy perennial is sterile, and bears tiny green flowers that do not produce seeds, therefore you cannot grow French Tarragon from seed – if you are sold seeds of “French Tarragon” you can be sure that they will be Russian Tarragon.
French Tarragon needs well-drained soil, and will also grow well in pots and containers. It needs to be lifted, divided and replanted every third year.
French Tarragon dies back in winter.
French Tarragon is native to Europe, southern Russia and western Asia. The word “dracunculus” means “little dragon” - it was believed it would cure the bites of all venomous creatures! French Tarragon was a favorite of the maharajahs of India – they took it as a tisane (tea) and in Persia they used it to improve the appetite.
Harvesting and parts used:
Do not take during pregnancy.
There is another variety of Tarragon, namely “Russian” Tarragon – Artemisia dracunculoides - This is a perennial herb with smooth, long, narrow pale green leaves, erect stems up to 1,2m tall. It bears small yellow-green, inconspicuous flowers which produce seed. The flavour of Russian Tarragon is no where as pleasant as French Tarragon. It is a hardy, scraggly plant and grows well in both cold and very hot climates. In my experience, Russian Tarragon can get invasive after a year or two – therefore it needs to be cut back hard during the growing season. It does well if planted in a wide necked plant pot.