Did you know there are two different tarragons? One is Russian Tarragon and the other is French Tarragon. The later is used in cooking. So what is Russian Tarragon and why haven’t you heard much about it? Probably because Russian Tarragon is viewed as the ugly stepsister to the Cinderella French Tarragon. However, I beg to differ and read on to learn why Russian Tarragon may have a place in your garden.
Take a look at the below video to see what Russian Tarragon looks like:
So, What is the Difference Between French and Russian Tarragon?
This Russian versus french tarragon concept is quite confusing. However, here are some pointers to know the difference between Russian Tarragon and French Tarragon.
- The Latin name for french tarragon is Artemisia dracunculus sativa. Whereas, the Latin name for Russian tarragon is Artemisia dracunculoides Pursch.
- French Tarragon is sold via root divisions. Russian Tarragon can grow from seed. (I grew 5 plants easily from seed thinking it was french tarragon. You probably already know I love to grow plants from seed.) Just an FYI, in the seed catalog, you might see the word, tarragon, and think it is french tarragon. It isn’t. It is Russian Tarragon.
- The leaves of Russian Tarragon are thinner, spikier, and not as dark green as the leaves of French Tarragon
- Russian Tarragon can grow to four feet! I saw an overwintered French Tarragon that was about 24 inches tall and resembled how a rosemary bush looks like. My French Tarragon never overwinters.
- Russian Tarragon tastes like a grass. I don’t mind the taste. Others say it is bitter. Fresh French Tarragon will numb your mouth and tastes like anise. In fact, I was surprised how much fresh french tarragon tasted like anise. Dried French Tarragon doesn’t have that same pronounced anise taste.
Medicinal Value of Russian Tarragon:
So, you are probably nodding your head saying so what good is it if it doesn’t have a tremendous amount of taste? Both Tarragons have the same medicinal quality.
According to WebMD, you can use tarragon for:
- Treating digestion problems
- Aiding with poor appetite
- Helping with water retention
- Helping with Toothaches. (Note fresh french tarragon will slightly numb your mouth. Grow some and try a piece some time.)
- Starts Menstruation, and
- Lastly, helps with sleep.
However, be cautious when using either Tarragons if you have an allergy to ragweed,daisies, or marigolds since the Tarragon plant is in the same family (Asteraceae/Compositae family.)
In addition, both Tarragons may slow blood clotting. According to WebMD, stop using both Tarragons at least 2 weeks before surgery since it may prolong bleeding before and after surgery.
Always check with your medical or holistic provider before taking or using any herb.
What About Cooking With it?
I have interchanged Russian Tarragon with French Tarragon in cooking, but you will have to use a lot more of the Russian Tarragon than you would French Tarragon. Like any tarragon, add it to the end of your recipe.
Russian Tarragon can have bitter overtones whereas French Tarragon is sweeter. However, fresh French Tarragon has a pronounced anise taste, which some people dislike. So, you may like fresh Russian Tarragon which has a much subtle taste rather than fresh French Tarragon.
Grow a plant a give it a try.
So the question is whether Russian Tarragon is simply an unloved weed or something to savor? What do you think?
Join the Conversation:
Have you grown Russian Tarragon in your garden?
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor and any information pertaining to the medicinal value of Russian Tarragon is for educational purposes only.