Epazote is a pungent, aromatic culinary and medicinal herb, beloved in many regions of Latin America, especially Mexico and the Caribbean. Among recipes such as mole de olla, tamales, enchiladas and chilaquiles, its leaves season countless batches of frijoles de olla, often lovingly prepared in a traditional clay olla atop the stove. It's pungent aroma is often compared to oregano, anise, fennel, tarragon, mint or creosote, but stronger. Medicinally, its leaves are brewed as a tea to address indigestion and stomach complaints, and it carries the name "wormseed" for its use in relieving parasites. The Spanish "epazote" is derived from the Nahautl name "epazōtl," translating to "skunk sweat," from "epatl" meaning skunk and "tzotl" for sweat. Some of its other names are payqu, paico, mastruz and Mexican tea.
Formerly Chenopodium ambrosioides, epazote is closely related to lamb's quarters, quinoa and huauzontle.
A short-lived perennial, topping out at about 3ft. in height, epazote's native habitat ranges from tropical South America up through Central America and Mexico. It grows well in temperate climates, and do take care if you are planting in a warm climate region, as this plant can become weedy.
Our initial seeds were shared with us fresh out of the plants by the gardeners at La Finca del Sur in the South Bronx, where this herb is a very important cultural crop.
Days to maturity: 45
Seeds per pack: 300-350
Germination rate: 86% on 03/22/2023
Planting / harvesting notes
Prefers full sun and tolerates poor soils. Start indoors and transplant, or start directly in the soil. Reseeds readily. Direct sow no more than 1/4 inch deep after soils have warmed to 65 degrees, or 2-3 weeks after your last frost. Thin to 12-14 inches. To get a head start on the season, sow seeds 2-4 weeks before the last frost very lightly covered in pots or trays in a greenhouse or sunny window. Transplant 12-14 inches apart into the garden a couple weeks after the last frost. Plants will grow 4 feet tall and wide.
Seed keeping notes
Allow seeds to dry on the plant. Harvest entire stalk, and whack in a bucket to remove seeds. Push seeds through a fine screen, though it is very difficult to remove all of the calyxes completely.