Got a spot where you’d like to grow something hardy but edible? How about Texas tarragon, the South’s answer to the less hardy French tarragon.
Texas tarragon (Tagetes lucida) is a tough perennial usually growing to about three feet high. The long, thin leaves are dark green with a slight serrated edge. Texas tarragon will grow best in well-drained soil with at least four hours of direct sun.
Texas tarragon is also known as Mexican mint marigold. It originated in Central America and gradually migrated north to the U.S. Southwest. That explains the “Mexican” in the common name but I honestly can’t imagine how “mint” got added. This herb neither looks nor tastes like mint. Instead Texas tarragon provides a slightly sweeter substitute for French tarragon. This is fortunate for Texas gardeners because French tarragon grows poorly in our hot, humid climate.
In the kitchen, this native herb can be used anywhere you would use French tarragon. Add finely chopped leaves to chicken or tuna salad. Its spicy flavor goes well with corn or squash dishes. One source suggested using it with pecans for pesto to accompany Tex-Mex food. For something really different this fall, try adding some fresh leaves to your hot chocolate.
Late fall is when Texas tarragon really shines in the garden. Just when it seems like nothing more will happen, this herb puts on a cheerful show of golden marigold-like flowers. In my area, these blooms are a signal that winter is just around the corner.
So there you have it, a hardy native herb with bright fall color and good flavor. What more could a gardener ask for?