Tarragon

 

Tarragon

Tarragon

Summer in the city and urban dwellers are dreaming of rural, leaf-bedecked bowers, complete with chirping birds and “bee-loud glades”. But even an itty-bitty urban balcony can host attractive and productive greenery. Herbs above all are well suited for growing in pots. And that particularly delicious herb, tarragon, will thrive in a pot, especially if your balcony faces south or west.

Tasteful tarragon is one herb that no garden or kitchen should be without. The word tarragon could be derived from the Arabic tarkhun, or from the French esdragon, meaning “little dragon”, a reference to the herb’s serpentine root structure. In herbal lore, any plant with a snakelike root system is reputed to counter snakebite. The wisdom of putting this alleged remedy to the test is to be doubted. In fact, tarragon has minimal medicinal application, although in the past it has been recommended as a diuretic, to promote the menses, and for insomnia, fatigue, toothache, rheumatism, flatulence, and colic.

The botanical name, Artemisia, is derived from Artemis (Diana to the Romans), the Greek goddess of the forest and the hunt, daughter of Zeus, and twin sister of Apollo. Artemis was an early feminist, not taking any nonsense from men. When Actaeon spied upon her bathing naked, Artemis responded by having him turned into a stag, whereupon his own hounds tore him to pieces. The image insinuates an unhappy fate for those who are not able to control their emotions.
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