Tarragon History – Name Origins
(Artemisia dracunculus)Artemisia, tarragon’s genus, comes from the Greek goddess Artemis (of the moon), known as Diana by the Romans, who was said to have given tarragon and other artemisias to Chiron, the centaur. Other tarragon histories compare the colorization of tarragon leaves to the moon.
The word tarragon is derived from the Latin dracunculus, ‘a little dragon’.
Tarragon is thought to be a native of Siberia and Mongolia.
The word tarragon additionally has ties to the French, Herbe au Dragon and references to “a little dragon”. Much of this association with dragons comes from the serpentine shape of the herb’s roots. As with the other Dragon herbs, tarragon is believed to cure the bites and stings of venomous beasts and mad dogs.
Tarragon History – Folklore & Medicinal Uses
The volatile essential oil of Tarragon is chemically identical with Anise. While tarragon may be effective for a variety of ailments, the active ingredients found within tarragon oil degrade quickly.
Tarragon has only been cultivated for around 600 years. It is thought to have been brought to Italy around the tenth Century by invading Mongols who used it as a sleep aid, breath freshener and seasoning. It is believed St. Catherine, on a visit to Pope Clement VI, brought tarragon to France in the 14th century. Gerard places it in England in 1548. But then again, Gerard, in his own tarragon history, repeated the legend that if flax seed is put into a radish root or sea onion and planted in the ground that tarragon will grow without providing any supportive information.
John Evelyn said of tarragon “‘Tis highly cordial and friendly to the head, heart, and liver.”
Throughout the centuries, tarragon has been used in the treatment of poor digestion, intestinal problems, nausea, flatulence, hiccups, rheumatism, gout, arthritis and to soothe the pain of toothaches.