Does your cilantro go to seed too quickly? Papalo, which is a warm weather alternative to cilantro, may be the answer to your woes. So, here is the dirt on this plant. Let me know if this plant is going to be your new best friend or just another seed package you won’t buy.
My Cilantro Weather Is for the Birds:
Just to give you some background, I live in zone 6 (New Jersey) and we rarely have a nice long spring. We have been having very cold temperatures and then summer comes on like a furnace.
Cilantro being the delicate plant that she is, just starts to pout and goes to flower the minute the weather gets warmer.
Worse yet, you can’t stop cilantro from bolting. Once it makes up its mind to flower, simply cutting back the flowers will only buy you a few weeks and not much leaf.
Stubborn plant. Kind of like a teenager.
So What About this Papalo Herb?
First off. Papalo is not a tall drink of handsomeness. I know the name can be deceiving–like out of a romance novel. It is a supposed to taste like cilantro.
History of Papalo:
It is also known as mampuiti which mean skunk due to its strong odor. Its odor wards off insects.
Medicinal Value of Papalo:
Pros–Why you Should Grow this Plant:
Here are some the pro’s of growing this plant:
- Most importantly, papalo loves warm weather and is similar in growth to Egyptian Spinach. (Yes, my warm weather counterpart to another cold weather plant.) It can get very tall and wide. Don’t plant it until your spring frost has passed.
- Nothing phases it. I did have one or two stems wilt but I think that the stems might have been weakened by some critter.
- It is quite tall and a handsome plant in the garden with delicate butterfly leaves. It grows about 2 to 3 feet tall and very wide. Give it some room. (In warmer areas it might get taller.) It also has a bluish green cast to it.
- Bugs don’t care about. (Okay, that is a HUGE plus.)
- It simply laughs at heat and fall’s cooler weather. However, frost will kill it.
- It is aromatic so it will add taste to your food. A little goes a long way.
Here is the “but.”
- I wasn’t crazy about the taste. It has a taste that is a cross between cilantro and onions. Some say it tastes like mint and citrus. It is really hard to describe but it is really pungent. It is often used as a garnishment so you should only use 1/3rd to 1/2 of the prescribed recipe amount of cilantro .
How to Grow Papalo:
If you are interested in growing this plant, here are the details. It is quite ordinary in its growth habits.
I start seeds indoors 6 weeks before my frost date. Some people have germination issues with the seeds. I didn’t. I bought my seeds at Johnny Selected Seeds. You can also buy them here:
I have never sown the seeds right into the soil. However, I don’t see why you can’t. If you do sow the seeds directly in the soil, plant a 1/2 inch deep. Don’t forget to give it space. It can easily grow to widths of 2 feet or more.
It likes sun but can take some shade. Plant in well drained soil.
As I mentioned above, don’t plant until after your frost date.
I never used the plant leaves since I just didn’t like the taste. Realize I have the palette of a boring non-spicy person, so I wouldn’t judge this plant by my choice in herbs.
You want to eat the leaves when they are young. The older the leaves get the more bitter. (Um, those were the ones I ate.)
Also, the leaves are added as a garnishment. If you cook it, the taste diminishes like cilantro. Like cilantro, it loses much of its flavor when dried.
If you are game to try this herb. Here are some recipes I found:
- Guacamole with Papalo via Appalachian Feet
- Papalo Guacamole Tacos via Appalachian Feet
- Papalo Pesto via Appalachian Feet
- Salsa Verde with Papalo via Homesick Texan
- Mexican Kohlrabi Salad with Papalo via But I’m Hungry
- Papalo, a New to Me Herb Salsa Recipe via Think About Eat
- Salad of Mexican Vegetables via Herb.net
- Duck and White Bean Tacos via Herb.net
If you want to taste papalo before growing it, you can find it in many Hispanic grocery stores.
Let me know if you decide to grow this herb.
Join the Conversation:
Do you grow or cook with papalo?
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