Quicklist: Types of Herbs
- Cilantro / Coriander
- Bay Leaves
- Winter Savory
- Lemon Balm
- Lemon Verbena
There is a deep connection between humans and herbs that goes way back in time. Generation after generation, human beings have greatly relied on the use of different herbs as a source of good health and well-being.
Anthropologists believe that people began making healing ointments and oils out of plants and herbs as early as 7000 BCE. According to historical records, plants were the only medicines that were used before 500 BCE, since they were believed to consist of exceptional medicinal qualities and even magical powers.
European colonists brought with them some useful plant seeds that spread throughout the Western Hemisphere. Herbs that they introduced included chamomile, lavender, calendula and parsley. American Indigenous cultures also had their own medicine cabinets and pantries full of herbs (such as cedar, sage, sweetgrass and tobacco) that they had been using for millennia.
Herbs – The Naturally Delicious Superfood
While herbs are typically associated with wellness and health due to their inherent healing and restorative properties, they are also an excellent addition to food dishes and recipes. Not only do they take dietary health to a whole new level, but herbs are also a great way to add flavor, aroma, and taste to your food.
Herb Popularity Chart
Here’s a chart illustrating the popularity of different herbs. As you can see, mint is by far the most popular herb based monthly searches online.
Types of Herbs
There is a whole list of culinary herbs you can grow in your garden. These herbs are amazingly handy to have in your kitchen pantry.
Learn about some of the most common and popular herb varieties and add some fresh, earthy flavor to your soups, stews and pasta.
Scientific Name: Petroselinum crispum
Native to the Mediterranean region, particularly Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Portugal, southern Italy and Morocco, parsley is one of the most widely grown herbs in the world.
Parsley is a hardy biennial herb that grows in two distinct forms — flat leaf and moss curled. The latter is popularly used for garnishing given how it produces a tightly curled rosette of leaves whereas the former type has flat leaves and is preferred for cooking since it releases more flavor.
The herb has a mild, bitter flavor that greatly enhances the flavor of soups, stews, casseroles and salads. Parsley is also consumed for its natural anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that boost the immune system and aids in digestion.
Fun Fact About Parsley: It is a very effective method to eliminate bad breath.
Scientific Name: Mentha
Mint is an extremely hardy perennial plant and its cultivation is widely distributed across North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa. It is one of the most aromatic and fragrant herbs. This is why the essential oil from mint is popularly used in perfumed scents and fragrances.
This herb has a fresh, minty flavor which makes it ideal to be used in drinks like mojitos and mint juleps. Fresh mint is usually preferred over the dry variety because of its aromatic, warm flavor followed by a sweet aftertaste. Many people brew fresh mint leaves to make different types of teas and beverages.
Mint has long been used as an herbal remedy to treat several ailments like chest pains, stomach aches, nausea, etc.
Scientific Name: Anethum graveolens
A tall herb with super thin and fine leathery foliage that often ranges from dark green to bluish-green in color. Dill is extremely popular as a culinary herb in European cuisine, especially in regions including Russia, Finland, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Ukraine. The finely cut, soft, and delicate dill leaves make an excellent addition to dishes featuring fish, lamb, potatoes, sour cream and poultry. It has a slightly bitter and sharp taste that provides a flavorful kick to the food.
The herb has a surprising amount of health benefits, some of which include low cholesterol levels, relief from insomnia and diarrhea, ease of digestion and relief from flatulence, to name a few.
Fun Fact About Dill: Dill is a great and natural alternative for sleeping aids.
Scientific Name: Ocimum basilicum
Also known as “great basil” and “Saint Joseph’s wort,” basil is one of the most popular and widely consumed culinary herbs. It is native to tropical regions, extending from southeast Asia to central Africa.
Basil is an annual herb that has an anise-like flavor and a very intense clove-like aroma. The leaves of this herb have a warm, spicy flavor that makes it ideal for pesto, salads, sauces, soups and various meat-based dishes. Fresh basil, in particular, is highly aromatic and is often used as a garnish on food to greatly enhance the smell and aroma.
The herb is often associated with several beliefs and rituals that have significantly added to its popularity. For example, the French call it the “royal herb” whereas ancient Greeks and Egyptians placed the herb in the mouth of the deceased because they strongly believed that it would open the gates of heaven for the dead.
Scientific Name: Salvia officinalis
This is a perennial, evergreen shrub that is also known as garden sage and common sage. It is a member of the mint family and is native to the Mediterranean region. Sage has a long, rich history and has been grown for centuries due to its healing properties and culinary significance. Interestingly, sage was also used in ancient times to ward off evil and as a treatment for snakebites.
For culinary purposes, fresh sage leaves make an excellent addition to sauces, pasta, poultry dressings, seasonings and salads. Since it belongs to the mint family, it releases a very strong, minty flavor that makes it ideal to be infused in herbal teas and beverages.
Sage-infused tea is consumed as an effective remedy to treat various gastric ailments, throat and mouth infections, as well as brain disorders.
Fun fact About Sage: It’s name means “salvation” or “To be saved” because it was mostly used for medicinal purposes in the past.
Scientific Name: Rosmarinus officinalis
This woody perennial, evergreen shrub has to be one of the most flavorful and aromatic herbs. It is native to the Mediterranean region and is a member of the mint family. The word “rosemary” comes from the Latin where “ros” means “dew” and “marinus” translates to “sea” in the English language — “dew of the sea.”
Rosemary has a delightful scent and with a strong, astringent flavor, making it an excellent option for stuffing chicken, turkey and lamb. It is popular in its native Mediterranean cuisine where it is typically roasted with vegetables and meats.
Other than culinary uses, rosemary is a powerful natural remedy for relieving pain and soothing indigestion. The aroma of rosemary greatly helps relieve everyday stress, calm the mind, and release anxiety.
Scientific Name: Thymus vulgaris
A delicate, Mediterranean perennial herb used by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks for embalming purposes, as well as a source of courage. Over time, the consumption of thyme spread throughout Europe, especially due to the Romans who used the herb to purify their rooms.
Thyme is very popular in Italian, Mediterranean, and French cuisines and is often paired with other herbs like parsley and garlic in order to increase the complexity of flavors. While it is used in fresh as well as a dried form, the former variety is more flavorful and releases an incredible scent.
This herb is an excellent source of antioxidants like Vitamin A that is essential for nail, eye and skin health. It also consists of antibiotic and antiseptic properties that help combat against coughs, colds and allergies.
Fun Fact About Thyme: The Greeks used to use it in their baths for “Courage” and the nice scent.
Cilantro / Coriander
Scientific Name: Coriandrum sativum
Cilantro and coriander come from the plant species — Coriandrum sativum.
Cilantro is the Spanish word for coriander, and in North America refers to the leaves and stem of the herb plant, while coriander are the dried seeds. Internationally, coriander refers to the plant and the seeds.
The taste of cilantro is described as lemon-like with a subtle tartness while its seeds consist of a spicy kick of flavor. The herb is great for salads, salsas, vegetable and meat-based dishes. It is native to various regions spanning from northern Africa and southern Europe to southwestern Asia.
Cilantro is also referred to as a ‘revitalizing herb’ that helps relieve inflammation, aid in digestion, and reduce stress in the liver.
Fun Fact About Cilantro /Coriander: Julia Child loathed the herb and probably didn’t know why. A research study in 2012 found that some people possess genetic variants of taste and smell receptors that makes cilantro / coriander taste like soap to them.
Scientific Name: Foeniculum vulgare
Native to the Mediterranean region, fennel is extremely flavorful and aromatic. It is a hardy perennial herb that belongs to the carrot family and has become highly naturalized, especially on dry soils on river banks and near the sea coasts.
Fennel is a highly prized herb that has been used since ancient times by Greeks and Romans who commonly used it as food and medicine. Fennel leaves have a sweetish flavor with a mild spice kick and a very earthy scent. They are typically used in salads, soups and meat-based dishes.
In terms of health and nutrition, fennel is highly rich in protein, calcium, magnesium, vitamins and iron. It significantly improves bone health, maintains blood pressure, fights inflammation, and boosts the overall metabolism of the body.
Fun Fact About Fennel: You can differentiate a male fennel from a female fennel by their shape. Male fennel are round, females are long.
Scientific Name: Matricaria chamomilla
This herb comes from daisy-like flowers and is the most popular herb choice for herbal teas, especially in Europe and the United States. Chamomile tea isn’t only one of the world’s most widely consumed herbal teas but the herb has also been used since ancient times as a treatment for upset stomach, inflammation and high fever.
The term “chamomile” comes from the Greek word “chamomaela” that translates to “ground apple” in English. This is used as a reference to its fresh, apple-like scent.
Chamomile has long been associated with a multitude of medicinal benefits, including improved sleep quality, better digestive system, protection against certain types of cancer, improved heart health, and controlled blood sugar levels.
Scientific Name: Artemisia dracunculus
Also known as Estragon, tarragon is a perennial herb that belongs to the sunflower family. It is cultivated for medical and culinary purposes, particularly, across much of North America and Eurasia. This herb has a strong anise-like flavor, making it a classic seasoning for chicken, egg dishes, soups, stews, seafood as well as vegetable-based dishes.
Tarragon is considered to be one of the four “fines herbes” of French cuisine and is the key flavoring component of Béarnaise sauce.
The herb is a great source of essential minerals and vitamins like magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium and iron. Tarragon is also often freshly brewed to make herbal tea or any other hot beverage which is believed to relieve stress and anxiety. Chewing on fresh tarragon leaves also helps numb mouth pain and kill germs that lead to bad breath.
Fun Fact About Tarragon: Tarragon comes from the species Dranculus, which means little dragon, due to its unique spikes.
Scientific Name: Lavandula
Lavender is a bushy perennial with needle-like foliage and balsam-like scent. The word “lavender” comes from the Old French word,”lavandre” which refers to the use of plants as infusions. The plant has a very high commercial value for its essential oils and extracts that consist of antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. The oils are also popularly used cosmetics, balms, perfumes, and salves.
It is also one of the most versatile and effective herbal remedies to help treat sleep disturbances, insomnia, and anxiety. In culinary history, lavender jam was a favorite of Queen Elizabeth and since then, the herb has been used as a flavorful and aromatic addition to various food dishes and recipes.
Scientific Name: Allium schoenoprasum
This is a perennial herb that belongs to the same family as leeks, garlic and onion. It is widespread across North America, Asia, and most of Europe. Chives grow in the form of clumps in underground bulbs and result in round and hollow leaves that are super fine in shape and texture. They are popularly paired with sour cream and are considered to be one of the finest herbs in French cuisine. The herb also goes well with salads, eggs, soups, potatoes, and other vegetable dishes.
Although the cultivation of chives began during the Middle Age, their use and consumption go back at least 5,000 years. Ancient Romans believed that chives helped cure sunburns and sore throat, as well as control blood pressure.
Fun Fact About Chives: Chives where used in ancient times because people believed it gave them strength.
Scientific Name: Laurus nobilis
Bay leaves have an incredible scent that smells like a mixture of mints, cloves and balsam. The fragrance coupled with a sharp, peppery taste has made the herb popular in rich, hearty stews and soups.
The herb comes in various varieties including California bay leaf, Indonesian bay leaf, West Indian bay leaf and Indian bay leaf. The fragrance of all the varieties is more prominent and noticeable than the taste.
Scientific Name: Eryngium foetidum
Often confused with its cousin herb cilantro, culantro is a different and an unusual kind of herb with long, serrated leaves that look like lettuce. It is a tropical perennial herb that is also known by other names like long coriander, Mexican coriander and shadow beni.
Although culantro is cultivated worldwide in temperate climates, it is native to South America, Central America and Mexico. In terms of flavor and aroma, it has a much stronger profile as compared to cilantro so it is used in smaller amounts in cooking.
Culantro is popularly used for marinating, seasoning, and garnishing purposes especially in Caribbean, Vietnamese and Indian cuisines. Since it has a great ability to retain flavor and color, culantro is highly valuable in the dried herb industry.
Fun Fact About Culantro: Culantro is used in tea form as a natural way to treat the flu and constipation.
Scientific Name: Anthriscus cerefolium
Chervil is a delicate annual herb with fine green leaves that are highly similar to finely cut parsley leaves. The herb is native to the Caucasus, but is popular throughout most of Europe.
The plant produces light green and flat lacy leaves that have a taste and aroma similar to that of anise. This makes Chervil a great option for enhancing the flavor of chicken, salads, eggs, vegetables and fish. It is a staple herb in French cuisine and is considered one of the four traditional French “fines herbes.”
Aside from being popular in the culinary world, chervil is also used as a useful digestive aid, for lowering blood pressure, curing hiccups, and as a mild stimulant.
Scientific Name: Satureja Montana
This is a perennial, semi-evergreen herb with dark green leaves and beautiful summer flowers. It is native to warm temperate regions of Africa, the Mediterranean and southern Europe. Winter savory can usually be found growing in old walls, alkaline soils, on rocky mountain slopes, dry banks and hill slides.
Since it belongs to the mint family, it carries the similar fresh, minty flavor which makes it ideal for salad dressings and to flavor liqueurs. It also holds a reputation for pairing really well with meat and beans, as well as in sauces and soups.
Winter savory contains a multitude of health benefits due to its antiseptic, digestive, carminative and aromatic properties. It is often used as a cure for flatulence, colic, nausea, sore throat, diarrhea and bronchial congestion.
Scientific Name: Mentha × piperita
This type of mint is a cross between spearmint and watermint, making it a hybrid mint variety. It is cultivated in various regions of the world but is indigenous to the Middle East and Europe. The herb naturally occurs in moist habitats that typically include drainage ditches and streamsides.
Peppermint is quite popular as a breath-freshening agent as well as an effective aid for digestion-related problems. It is commonly used in the culinary world as a garnish for salads, and in various cold beverages for its strong and refreshing minty aroma and taste.
Scientific Name: Stevia rebaudiana
Stevia is best known as a natural sweetener that is extracted from the plant species, Stevia rebaudiana. The herb is native to Paraguay and Brazil and is part of the sunflower family. In its native regions, the leaves of the stevia plant are typically used to sweeten local teas and medicines.
You can use stevia as a natural substitute for sugar in teas and a variety of sweet treats. The best part about its natural sweetness is that it contains absolutely no amount of calories. In traditional medicine, stevia has also been found to be a great treatment for stomach problems, burns and colic.
According to a research article published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2017, stevia also has the potential to treat endocrine diseases like hypertension, diabetes and obesity.
Scientific Name: Cymbopogon
Also known as barbed wire grass and silky heads, lemongrass is a perennial that looks similar to a grass-like plant due to its long and slender foliage. It is one of the most popular culinary herbs featured in most Asian cuisines.
Lemongrass consists of a strong lemony and citrusy flavor which makes it ideal to use in a variety of stews, soups and curries. Lemongrass herbal tea is often consumed as a remedy for coughs, sore throat, and digestion problems.
Lemongrass stalks are an excellent source of key antioxidants, like beta-carotene which protects eye inflammation and cancer.
Scientific Name: Origanum vulgare
This is a loose, open perennial plant that belongs to the mint family and is also known as “wild marjoram.” Oregano is native to the Mediterranean region, temperate western and southwestern Eurasia. Although it is a perennial, it can also be grown as an annual plant in colder climates.
Oregano is a staple herb in Italian-American cuisine where it is popularly used as seasoning for pasta and pizza. Interestingly, the herb gained significant popularity after World War II when soldiers came back with a weird craving for the “pizza herb.”
Oregano leaves also release distilled oils that are used as an effective remedy for indigestion, respiratory ailments, skin conditions and fungal infections.
Scientific Name: Origanum majorana
Marjoram is a very tender annual plant with gray-green, velvety leaves that are really soft to the touch. It is also called pot marjoram and belongs to the oregano family. Due to its similarity with oregano, both the herbs are often used interchangeably in some Middle Eastern countries.
Marjoram is native to southern Turkey and Cyprus and was used as a popular symbol of happiness by the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. It was often used in love spells where women used to keep marjoram leaves under their pillow in hopes of finding a future spouse.
The herb plays a key role in Middle Eastern and Italian cuisine.
Scientific Name: Melissa officinalis
This is an upright herbaceous, bushy perennial with light green leaves and a coarse texture. It belongs to the mint family and is native to Central Asia, south-central Europe, Iran and the Mediterranean basin. However, the cultivation of lemon balm has been naturalized throughout America.
Knowledge of lemon balm goes back thousands of years where it was used for medicinal purposes by Greeks and Romans. It has also been deemed to be the “elixir of life” by ancient herbalists and physicians due to its ability to reduce anxiety, alleviate insomnia, treat gastrointestinal problems, and even possibly cure Alzheimer’s disease.
Lemon balm is popular as a culinary herb to flavor ice creams, hot and iced teas, and sweet fruit dishes. The essential oil from the lemon balm plant is favored in perfumes for its rich lemon-like scent.
Scientific Name: Myrtus
This herb holds great historical significance and is mentioned a number of times in the bible, as well as in the ancient mythology of Greece and Rome. Myrtle is a hardy evergreen shrub with a strong fragrance and dark green foliage. It is native to the Middle East, the Mediterranean region and North Africa.
Myrtle has always been widely valued in traditional herbal medicine and has been commonly prescribed for fever and pain by numerous ancient physicians. Myrtle essential oil is also used to combat several skin conditions.
Dried myrtle leaves are commonly used in Turkey to prepare a soothing herbal tea that helps diabetics in lowering their blood pressure. In terms of their culinary use, myrtle leaves are used like bay leaves due to their intense, spicy flavor that is similar to allspice powder.
Scientific Name: Aloysia citrodora
Also known as lemon bee-brush, this herb is native to the western regions of South America. It was initially brought to Europe by the Portuguese and the Spanish.
Lemon verbena is a woody perennial shrub with pointed leaves and a very powerful lemon-like scent. The herb is often used as a great substitute for lemon in dishes that require a strong lemon taste, for instance, salad dressings, beverages, vegetable marinades and poultry dishes. It’s also featured in flavored sorbets and herbal teas.
The herb has several health benefits including fighting inflammation, easing digestion, promoting weight loss, relieving nasal congestion, and preventing muscle damage, to name a few.
Scientific Name: Myrrhis odorata
Cicely is an herbaceous perennial plant that is also known as sweet chervil, sweet cicely and garden myrrh. The term “Myrrhis” comes from a Greek word that refers to the aromatic oils from Asia, whereas “odorata” is Latin for “scented.”
The plant produces fern-like leaves that are feathery and finely divided with white-colored patches. When the leaves are crushed, they release a strong smell that is quite similar to that of aniseed. It is native to the mountains of central and southern Europe but has been naturalized in various parts of the world, particularly, in grasslands, woodland margins, river banks and cultivated areas.
Cicely leaves are used in both raw and cooked form, either way, their taste, and aroma is highly reminiscent to that of anise. They also have a rich history of being used as a very effective medicinal herb.
Scientific Name: Mentha spicata
While many people associate the flavor of spearmint with chewing gum, it is also a great flavor enhancer for teas, herbal soups and salad dressings.
Growing in Jamaica, allspice is quite a unique addition to any kitchen. It comes from the dried berries of the allspice tree, which is also called the pimento tree. Allspice gets its name from the unique blend of flavors it presents. It looks like extra-large peppercorns.
Tasting like a combination of cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon, this spice is typically used in baking (apple pie, anyone?), condiments like ketchup, ice cream, chewing gum, pickling, and even soft drinks.
Fun fact about allspice: The Mayan Indians used Allspice to embalm the bodies of important leaders. It’s also one of the spices that Christopher Columbus discovered during his time on the Caribbean Islands.
Although Anise originally came from the Mediterranean, it’s now cultivated almost everywhere in the world. Currently, India, China, and Mexico are some of the largest producers of this popular spice-seed that can range in color from greenish-gray to pale brown.
Anise is used in many different ways, including being added to sauces, salads, and soups. It’s also an ingredient in liqueurs and aperitifs. But that’s not all. Anise is also found in sausages, pickles, cough drops, candy, chewing gum, and tobacco.
Anise is one of the oldest cultivated spices and was well-known in Greece and Egypt. Even the Romans enjoyed it, using it as a flavoring in a spice cake they believed helped prevent indigestion.
Star anise, not to be confused with anise, is an aromatic and sweet spice. Although it is similar to aniseed, it’s not related at all and is usually much stronger and more pungent. Star anise looks like brown stars, hence the name.
This attractive spice is quite popular with chefs that like to use it in sauces with onions or capers. It’s also able to greatly enhance poultry dishes and works really well with duck and pork in particular.
Fun fact about star anise: Many people like to leave some of it in coffee, so the beverage gets infused with its flavor and becomes more intense and rich.
As one of the most exotic spices in the world, cardamom is something that many people aren’t all that familiar with. It’s part of the ginger and turmeric botanic family and is found in pods that are spindle-shaped with an interesting triangular cross-section.
You’ll find many Middle Eastern, Swedish, Arabic, and Indian dishes enhanced with cardamom. It’s also packed with medicinal properties and is used to help treat many health issues.
Fun fact about cardamom: This is another truly old spice. It has been around for over 4 000 years and was popular in Egypt, Rome, and Greece. Many years ago, people thought cardamom was supernatural and could drive out evil spirits.
Although caraway is, technically speaking, a dry fruit, it’s still considered an important spice in many kitchens, especially in Europe and Western Asia. It is native to these regions and belongs to the carrot and parsley family.
Caraway tastes slightly of anise and smells a bit like sweet pepper, and is used in many dishes. Indian traditional food, German sausages, alcoholic beverages, curry, desserts, and cakes often have this spice as an ingredient.
Another spice that can help to treat ailments, caraway, is useful for toothaches, rheumatism, and eye infections. The oil distilled from the seeds is also used to make perfume and soap with a pleasant smell.
Chicory, which grows as a beautiful blue flower that is related to the sunflower, is native to North Africa, Europe, and Western Asia. However, it is also found in New Zealand, North America, and Australia where it grows in temperate climates.
Typically, chicory has a slightly spicy and bitter taste and is mostly used in salads, but the leaves of this plant can be enjoyed fresh or stir-fried. The heads can be griddled, baked, or poached.
Chicory is well known for its medicinal uses, which include helping in treating bruises and cuts, gastrointestinal disorders, and gallstones. It’s also popular for keeping animals healthy.
Cloves, the unopened and sun-dried flower buds of the clove tree, are mainly grown in Madagascar, Tanzania, and Zanzibar. It has a fruity, hot taste and a warm aroma. You can also detect undertones of pepper and camphor.
The high-quality whole cloves in stores are typically red-brown in color and when you press them with a fingernail, some oil will come out. Just like many other popular spices, cloves go back many, many years. In fact, it’s believed that cloves date back to 1721 BC and before.
Fun fact about cloves: During the Middle Ages, merchants and Muslim sailors traded this spice frequently. It’s even mentioned by Arabian Nights characters like Sinbad the Sailor.
Though not many people are aware of this herb, the dandelion is found in mild climates and is native to Europe.
Dandelion flowers are yellow-orange in color and are made up of many small, individual flowers that are close together, which are called ray florets. Interestingly, these flowers open at sunrise and close when night falls.
For the most part, the dandelion is used for its medicinal properties. It’s especially popular in the field of traditional Chinese medicine.
Still, dandelion leaves are edible and can add a unique, bitter, and peppery flavor to soups and salads. This bitterness takes some getting used to, so dandelion leaves should be added in small amounts only.
Garlic surely needs no introduction—it’s one of the most popular and widely-used herbs in cooking. Garlic is native to Central Asia but became beloved all over the world. Part of the lily family (like shallots and onions), garlic is not known only for its flavor and aroma, but for its medicinal purposes as well.
Considered a superfood, garlic is packed with nutritional value. Selenium, zinc, Vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium are just a few of the nutrients found in garlic.
Yet another herb that needs no introduction, ginger, is considered essential in kitchens by chefs all over the world. It’s especially popular in Indian and Asian cuisine but is also praised for its medicinal benefits as it can treat upset stomachs and motion sickness.
Typically, ginger is used in curry dishes, pickles, flavorful bread, sauces, and confections. Of course, it’s also used to make ginger beer and ginger ale.
Interestingly, ginger is also used in landscaping. It produces clusters of pink and white flower buds that eventually turn yellow when they bloom.
Fun fact about garlic: Sticky juice extracted from garlic cloves is sometimes used as an adhesive. It’s especially good for projects with delicate items like glass.
This root vegetable used as a spice is part of the Brassicaceae family, and is related to cabbage, mustard, broccoli, and wasabi. Known for its hot, pungent, and fleshy root, horseradish is often found in table relish or condiments. Usually, it’s good when served with roasted meat.
Cultivated since ancient times (when it was praised for treating several ailments), it’s believed that horseradish is indigenous to Eastern Europe.
Fun fact about horseradish: In Greek mythology, Apollo was told by the Delphic Oracle that this spice is worth its weight in gold.
Most of us only really know mustard because we enjoy it on hot dogs, but it’s been around for a long time. Egyptian pharaohs used to stock their tombs with mustard seeds so they could take them to the afterlife, showing these seeds were really important. The Romans also loved the seeds and used them in vinegar and wine.
Back in years long past, the Romans and Greeks used mustard to cure scorpion stings and ease toothaches. Even Hippocrates appreciated the medicinal uses of mustard paste, especially how it helped to soothe aches and pains.
Fish, roasts, pasta, and mashed potatoes all pair well with mustard.
Native to South Asia, turmeric is related to ginger and has a long history of being used to treat ailments. As you’ve probably noticed by now, many herbs (or spices) were first used as medicine before they became so popular in food.
Turmeric is still considered a good way to protect your body against free radicals and, because it has a high level of antioxidants, it’s good for supporting the immune system.
As for making food with turmeric, it’s really good in scrambled eggs, roasted veggies, in soups, and when added to rice. It is a bit bitter while having an earthy, musky flavor as well as a hint of peppery spiciness.
Best known as sushi’s closest friend, wasabi is a spice that can sting the naval cavity if you’re not careful. This pea-green paste is packed with flavor and spiciness that is different from what you get in hot peppers.
Wasabi is from Japan and is used as a partner for sushi, but also in marinades, with mashed potatoes, and you can even make wasabi mayonnaise.
Fun fact about wasabi: It’s actually part of the cabbage family, and is also related to horseradish and mustard. It grows in water, and the part that’s submerged looks like a root but is actually the plant’s stem.
Best Herbs For Various Purposes
Cooking (Culinary Herbs) – Cilantro
In the 8th century, Charles The Great referred to herbs as “the friend of physicians and the praise of cooks.” His sentiment has proven true to date, especially in culinary. Culinary herbs give food a distinctive flavor, delightful aroma, and visual appeal.
While so many herbs can make it to the kitchen, cilantro has got to be among the most popular ones. It is also one of the oldest used herbs – spanning over 3,000 years. This herb, originating in the eastern Mediterranean region, is particularly common in Mexican and Asian cuisine.
It works best when fresh, since drying or cooking diminishes its flavor. You can store it in a refrigerator for up to one week. All you need to do is clean, pat them dry, and wrap them loosely in plastic.
Health Issues – Turmeric
This takes us back to what Charles The Great once said – about herbs being the physician’s friend. Research shows that herbs are full of healthy compounds with many health benefits. In comes turmeric. It is known for its distinct yellow color, but there is more to it than just the color.
While it contains several compounds, the most important one in terms of medicinal properties is curcumin. It has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Besides, curcumin can boost brain-derived neurotrophic factors. That means it can help improve memory and attention.
It is worth noting, though, it would be difficult to get the most out of turmeric if you use it as a spice. Therefore, most people opt for supplements.
Growing in Outdoor Garden – Myrtle
Having herbs in your outdoor garden is nothing short of fulfilling. You can enjoy the greenery and the fresh aura that the herbs ooze. But it helps to know which herb does well in which season. Here’s a cheat code.
For winter, the myrtle fairs quite well. It is an aromatic shrub native to North Africa and the Mediterranean region. This herb was associated with marriage fidelity, love, and protection in ancient Greek. Away from what the Greek goddess of love believed, myrtle has other benefits. For instance, its leaves are rich in essential oils. It is also used in food as a spice.
On the other hand, the herb for spring would be lemon balm. This herb is considered a calming herb. Since time immemorial, this herb has been used for purposes of relaxation. Besides, you can plant it in your outdoor garden to attract bees, which play an important role in pollination.
Lavender would easily pass as the best herb for fall. It is such a versatile herb, with benefits going beyond the garden. For instance, you can use dried lavender in home cleaning to harness its fresh scent. You can also use it in the kitchen to make a cup of tea.
Then there is summer. During this season, you can go with the good old mint. While mint can do well anywhere, it tends to do better outdoors. Ensure that the soil is well-drained, preferably with high sand content. Mint roots can rot if there is not enough drainage.
Growing on Balcony – Rosemary
Do you live in a flat and would love a herb garden? Don’t fret – you can use the small balcony area. Since you will plant the herbs in containers, ensure that you water and fertilize them regularly. You also need to pick a herb that does well in these conditions, like rosemary. There are many reasons why rosemary is the best herb for your balcony.
To begin with, its fresh aroma will make its way to the rest of the house. Secondly, rosemary is incredibly easy to grow – it is frost resistant and very water-wise. You can move it inside for the winter, especially if you live in zone 8 or lower.
Growing Indoors – Basil
Some people plant herbs indoors for lack of outdoor space. Others do because they want to fill the house with fragrance and greenery. Whatever your reasons are, you will find it rewarding. The most important step of growing herbs indoors is picking the right plant. Lucky for you, many herbs do well indoors, but basil takes the day.
This plant, native to the tropical regions of India, is incredibly popular in Italian cuisine. Think of dishes like bruschetta and marinara. You can even spice things up by planting different varieties of basil in your indoor containers. Common varieties include purple basil, Thai basil, and the small globe.
Companion Planting – Lavender and Rosemary
Sometimes you want variety, but you don’t have enough space. But that’s perfectly okay since you can pair some herbs together. The general rule of thumb is pairing herbs that like the same environment. For instance, Mediterranean herbs love lots of sunlight and dry soil.
You can grow two or more of them in the same pot. A perfect example is lavender and rosemary. However, rosemary is not as cold tolerant as lavender, so you might want to skip this combination if you live in cooler climates.
Hanging – Dill
A hanging herb garden does a better job scenting the air around you than a ground-level garden. Whether you hang the herbs inside the house or patio, you will enjoy the aroma. Besides, these hanging buddies will help cleanse the air, not to mention the sheer beauty they add to your space.
But it would help if you got the right herb for the job. In that case, look no further than the dill herb. This herb is used both as a cooking spice and as a fragrance. The best way to grow it is by plating the dill seed directly rather than transplanting it. It does not require much maintenance and does well in poor and rich soil.
Propagation – Stevia
While most herbs should be grown by planting seeds, others can be propagated easily by taking soft-stemmed cuttings from healthy plants. One of those herbs is stevia. This herb is commonly used to add sweetness to the tea. There are two ways of propagating stevia.
The first one is placing the cutting in water. The other way is to place it in a damp starter or perlite. Once you have roots, you can move the cuttings to wherever you want to plant them permanently.
Growing Fast – Sage
When planning your herb garden, you need to consider how long it will take to harvest the herbs. That way, you can plan the garden space and estimate timelines. Some herbs could take up to a couple of years, while others, like sage, grow pretty fast. Sage is a shrubby herb loved for its aromatic leaves.
It only takes 75-80 days from sowing to reach maturity. Surprisingly, it can live up to 20 years. However, you might want to replace it after around four years when it gets woody.
Where to Buy Herb Plants Online
The first place we all go for anything we need is Amazon. Are you looking for kitchen window pots of herbs? Perhaps you want to plant yours outdoors. You might need planters, and Amazon has some self-watering ones. The plants are non-GMO, which is a big plus for lots of people.
The second place any gardener goes is to the seed mogul itself, Burpee. If you’ve ever planted a garden or even grown tomatoes in a pot on the porch, then you know the name Burpee. For over 140 years, these guys have supplied gardeners with flowers and vegetables, but did you know Burpee sells herb plants? Burpee, too, sells non-GMO plants.
Mountain Valley Growers
A big name in online herb plants is Mountain Valley Growers. Located in the Central Valley of California, certified organic herb plants are available in any flavor you wish, in addition to specialty herb garden plants such as Biblical herb garden and English Cottage herb garden plants. The website also educates consumers regarding growing zones and what you should know.
How would you like to order from a company that sells herb plants loved by pollinators like bees and butterflies? Would you appreciate herb plants that are medicinal? How about culinary herb plants or exotic herb plants that will make the house smell wondrous? Non-GMO and organic,this Virginia company is a conscientious grower.
You have to love the kind of personality that names his business “Unbeleafable.” On this website, you’ll learn about air-purifying plants, plants that won’t harm pets, plant need-to-knows like watering and light, and much more. On offer are any herb plants you can think of including herb plants grown only in the Philipines, for example, such as gotu kola.
Seed Savers Exchange
There are companies that offer gardeners not only medicinal, aromatic, pest control, making perfumes, and cooking herb plants, but also heirloom herb plants. Organic and non-GMO, these plants have come down through generations of family gardeners. For instance, try Grandma Einck’s Dill, a self-seeding annual grown from 1920 until today by the Iowa family.
This 100-year-old company has over 70 growing stations around the country. Whatever you want to order, it’s probably nearby and won’t take long to arrive. These non-GMO plants come complete with tutorials on the website and even recipes. German, Greek, Italian, Thai, and English, it’s all here for your consumption.
Yes, you read that right. Etsy isn’t only for arts and crafts or cutesy T-shirts. Herb plants are available, such as thyme, chives, sweet basil, African basil, rosemary, and more.
Some sellers are in the EU, and it’s difficult to find out if the plants are organic and/or non-GMO, but the EU is famous for not allowing GMO plants or seeds into their vicinity. The variety is amazing and the pricing is pretty much competitive.
Have you ever seen ads on TV for meal boxes and wished you could have one for herb plants? Good news! Such boxes are not only possible, but you can order herb plant boxes along with seasonal herb plants and veggies.
This company is also socially conscious in that it donates water to those in need. Scroll through growing tips and hacks, cooking with your new herbs, and educational information about growing herb plants.
Most people go to nurseries to get flowers, trees, and herb plants. The only time people visit Target or Walmart garden centers is to get Christmas trees. Gardeners visiting Target for herb plants will find hydroponic herb kits with plants and grow lights as well as a variety of herbs such as basil, chives, lavender, rosemary, and oregano.
Don’t worry about non-GMO grow kits because Target offers them. You can order them online and pick them up at your nearest Target store.
From the heart of the healthy English countryside come direct to you certified organic herb plants. On offer are several varieties of basil, mint, sage, thyme, fennel, lemon balm, and much more. You choose the week you want to receive your herb plants, and if it’s in season, it’s shipped right out to you. The website will tell you what’s in season and what isn’t.