Saturday, August 25, 2007

Herbal Flowers #6

Earlier in this Herb Flowers series, I showed pictures of cilantro flowers. The spiky green flowers above are from a cilantro-flavored herb called culantro (Eryngium foetidum). Culantro is native to Mexico and Central and South America where it is widely used. It is great for Florida where cilantro is quick to bolt and is extremely difficult to grow in the summer garden. While cilantro is a cool weather annual, culantro is a warm weather perennial. It will grow here all year round, but needs to be protected if the temperature dips into the 30's. Grow in partial shade; it will take the heat of our summers but not in full sun.

Culantro is a low growing plant with flower spikes that have a conical flower head surrounded by spiky leaves that can be quite prickly to the touch. The lower basal leaves have a saw-toothed edge, but are soft and edible. They are the part used in culinary applications and can be used wherever cilantro is called for. Remove the flower spikes to encourage more basal leaf growth.