Epazote (Dysphania ambrosioides)

Epazote (Dysphania ambrosioides) is a species of herb in the family Amaranthaceae, native to Central America, South America, and southern Mexico. Besides growing in the native areas, Epazote is also grown in warm temperate to subtropical areas of Europe and the United States. It is also known as Jesuit's tea, Mexican tea, wormseed, Paico, Pigweed, West Indian Goosefoot, Hedge Mustard, Jerusalem Parsley, Pazote and Herba Sancti Mariae. Epazote is sometimes referred to as a weed.

Epazote is an annual or short-lived perennial plant, growing 1.2 m tall. It has multi-branched with reddish stems. The leaves are oblong-lanceolate, up to 12 cm long, and sharply toothed. The small greenish yellow flowers are produced in clusters along the stems. This is followed by tiny black seeds in small fruit clusters. It propagates easily from the small seeds.

Epazote is commonly used as leaf vegetable and herb for its pungent flavor. It has a very strong taste and sometimes has a gasoline type of odor. It is traditionally used in Mexican cuisine, especially in black bean recipes for flavor and its carminative properties. Epazote is believed to prevent flatulence caused by eating beans, and also used to expel worms, kills parasites and bacteria, mildly laxative, prevents ulcers and repels insects. Epazote is also used to season a variety of dishes including beans, soups, salads and quesadillas. Younger leaves have a milder, yet richer flavor, while older leaves have a stronger flavor and should be used sparingly. Epazote is poisonous in large doses.

The seed and fruit of Epazote are high in ascaridole, an essential oil with sedative, antifungal and pain relieving properties. It also has a strong anti-malarial and insecticidal actions.

Epazote (Dysphania ambrosioides)Epazote (Dysphania ambrosioides)
Author: H. Zell (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

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