The Encyclopedia of Herbs

A Comprehensive Reference to Herbs of Flavor and fragrance

Arthur O. Tucker & Thomas DeBaggio

Edited by Francesco DeBaggio
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Book Details
 1078 p
 File Size 
 8,292 KB
 File Type
 PDF format
 by Arthur O. Tucker and Thomas DeBaggio

How to Use the Book
In this book we have attempted to update the lore of the past with current
horticultural practices from around the world to prepare you for the garden of
your life. The book is arranged in two large sections. The first section provides a
detailed overview of herb growing, harvesting, and preserving techniques.
The second section is an alphabetized listing intended to equip you with the
details to identify, understand, cultivate, care for, and use herbs of flavor and
fragrance. Each entry is filled with detailed descriptions and histories of
individual herbs. A typical entry provides the plant’s botanical name and family,
whether it is an annual or perennial, and its height, hardiness, light requirements,
water consumption, required soil type and pH. The plant’s name in various
languages is included, as is a history of the plant, its chemistry, how to propagate
the plant, and its culinary and landscape uses. A botanical key is given to
identify the plant, and its description includes its country of origin and various
data on the leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds.
Who We Are
We have known the thrill of discovery in the garden and share a longstanding
passion for cultivating the earth, and between us we have over eighty years of
dirty knees. Art is Dr. Tucker to his students and many others. He spends much
of his time in the highly technical milieu of a botanist who has specialized in the
identification and chemistry of herbs. He has published and lectured widely and
has a list of degrees that ends in a Ph.D. from Rutgers.
Tom had a more checkered career. He was a reformed journalist who since
1976 has been a commercial grower and seller of herb plants and has written for
numerous publications about herbs. While Art has familiarity with Latin, French,
German, and “Botanese,” Tom needed translations of all four. Tom’s expertise
was passed onto his son, Francesco, upon Tom’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, and
Francesco has continued the tradition.
We both marvel at the intense interest that Americans have shown recently in
herbs. Pollsters estimate that over 6 million U.S. households grow herbs and
they found that over half of the nation’s population recognized garlic, parsley,
dill, chives, and basil. Commercial growers responded to this increasing hunger
with record fresh herb harvests. All this interest helped to fuel new research and
made this book possible and more worthwhile.
Our aim has been to fill a gap between the highly technical scientific research
of herbs and the homey, anecdotal approach bathed in generalities. We set out to
compile diverse information and offer it in a single volume that will appeal to a
wide range of gardeners and specialists, from home gardeners to commercial
growers as well as professional horticulturists and academics. We think of this
book, in a modest way, as a modern, updated version of the great herbals of the
past. We hope that it will encourage more Americans, and others around the
globe, to successfully grow and enjoy these beautiful and useful plants.

THIS BOOK PROVIDES accurate information to help identify, grow, and use
hundreds of herbs. Although it draws heavily on scientific research from around
the world, it is tempered by personal gardening experience and written in a
simple understandable style.

No single book is big enough to describe all the plants called herbs, so we
have focused on herbs that are most common in home gardens, catalogs,
restaurants, and markets (or should be). For the purpose of this book, we define
an herb as any temperate climate herbaceous or woody plant used for flavor or
fragrance. This excludes a wide range of herbs for medicine, dyes, fibers,
insecticides, soap, and rubber.

We believe our range, while limited, remains wide. Old favorites, such as
basil, dill, parsley, coriander, lavender, mint, sage, rosemary, tarragon, and thyme
are included in detail and many species that have not reached a wide audience
are included. Among the unusual or hard to find herbs are rau r m or Vietnamese
cilantro (Persicaria odorata), which immigrated to the United States along with
the airlift of 140,000 Vietnamese in 1975. Another cilantro-flavored ethnic herb,
papaloquelite (Porophyllum ruderale subsp. macrocephalum), comes from south
of the border. This nine-foot marigold relative has been used in Mexican cooking
for centuries but only entered Texan cuisine around 1990.

The Encyclopedia of Herbs grew from our frustration with the superficial
treatment of our favorite herbs and the gross errors about them in many popular
herb books (a recent one erroneously claimed that dill “resembles fennel in
appearance and aroma”). We have spent years searching for thorough, unbiased
research to dispel many cultivation myths perpetuated by four centuries of

The most interesting data we uncovered was not in the popular press but in
small circulation technical books and journals where scientists use shorthand and
jargon to communicate with each other. This is one of the first times that most of
these research findings have been available in a non-scientific venue.
We rely on botanists and agricultural scientists for an understanding of herbs
and their cultivation, and we believe that their research provides useful
guidelines, but it is not infallible and should not be read as the last word on the
subject. Every spring brings new revelations to the observant gardener, as well as
to the careful scientists.

The first edition of this book, entitled The Big Book of Herbs and published by
Interweave Press, was extremely well received, earning awards from both the
International Herb Association (2001 Book Awards) and The Herb Society of
America (Gertrude B. Foster Award, 2004). However, in the intervening years,
amounting to almost a decade of newly published literature, new information has
emerged (e.g., absinthism was probably due to adulterants, not the content of
thujones) and scientific names have changed (e.g., vetiver is now Chrysopogon
zizanioides). In addition, we found a number of typographical errors or species
that we had inadvertently excluded (e.g., Agastache scrophulariifolia). Other
sections (e.g., Pelargonium) have been completely revamped. We thank all those
conscientious readers who wrote to us with these enlightenments and hope that
this book will be your ultimate reference on culinary and fragrant herbs for years to come.

Many readers, from gardeners to academics, also wrote to thank us for
including the references. Actually, this is not just academic show-and-tell or
some sort of weird academic compulsive disorder; it protects us legally. Pay
particular attention to our wording in the following chapters. In accordance with
the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, we may freely (1) quote scientific
literature, (2) quote ethnic or historic literature, or (3) cite how we personally use
herbs. However, as soon as we use terms like “recommend,” “prescribe,” or
show advocacy for consumption for herbs that are not GRAS (Generally
Recognized As Safe) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, then we (and
the publisher) are legally liable. Readers should pay particular attention to this
when advocating herbs like sassafras, which is not GRAS and has been shown to
be a pre-hepatocarcinogen; while you may not accept the scientific literature,
you are legally liable if you advocate its consumption and somebody does
develop liver cancer (which may not even be related to the consumption of
sassafras). In our litigious society today, this warning is not just scientific
arrogance, and even if you win a legal suit, you still have to pay lawyers in most
states and go through the hassle and time. When we make a statement, such as
garlic being antifungal, we have cited scientific papers to support that statement.
Herbs also fight a long uphill battle to prove their efficacy. Popular medical
journals will publish poorly conducted research that shows negative effects, and
the popular press will subsequently seize upon this, disregarding the many other
well-conducted positive studies. We also hope that these references will prompt
readers to locate the original scientific literature from their libraries and
investigate a topic further to make their own well-informed decisions, and if we
have inspired at least one student to research a topic further, then we have

Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Plant Identification
Chapter 2. What’s in a Name?
Chapter 3. The Flavors and Fragrances of Herbs
Chapter 4. How to Maximize Flavor and Fragrance
Chapter 5. How to Create the Best Growing Conditions
Chapter 6. Container Cultivation
Chapter 7. Propagation and Planting
Chapter 8. Keeping Herbs Healthy
Chapter 9. The Harvest
Herb Profiles
Aloysia citriodora
Anethum graveolens
Anthriscus cerefolium
Armoracia rusticana
Asarum canadense
Bergera koenigii
Borago officinalis
Calendula officinalis
Capparis spinosa
Carthamus tinctorius
Carum carvi
Cedronella canariensis
Chamaemelum nobile
Chrysopogon zizanioides
Citrus hystrix
Coriandrum sativum
Crocus sativus
Cryptotaenia japonica
Cuminum cyminum
Cunila origanoides
Cymbopogon citratus
Dysphania ambrosioides
Eryngium foetidum
Foeniculum vulgare
Geranium macrorrhizum
Glycyrrhiza glabra
Hedeoma pulegioides
Helichrysum italicum
Houttuynia cordata
Humulus lupulus
Hyssopus officinalis
Inula helenium
Juniperus communis
Laurus nobilis
Levisticum officinale
Limnophila chinensis subsp. aromatica
Lindera benzoin
Litsea glaucescens
Melissa officinalis
Myrrhis odorata
Myrtus communis
Nepeta cataria
Nigella sativa
Oenanthe javanica
Papaver somniferum
Perilla frutescens
Persea borbonia
Persicaria odorata
Petroselinum crispum
Phyla scaberrima
Pimpinella anisum
Poliomintha bustamanta
Porophyllum ruderale subsp. macrocephalum
Rhus coriaria
Rosmarinus officinalis
Ruta graveolens
Sanguisorba minor
Sassafras albidum
Sesamum orientale
Solidago odora
Stevia rebaudiana
Tagetes lucida
Trachyspermum ammi
Trigonella foenum-graecum
Umbellularia californica
Valeriana officinalis
Wasabia japonica
Zingiber mioga
Selected References

Illustrations copyright © 2000 by Marjorie C. Leggitt.
Frontispiece: Wasabia japonica. Opposite: Geranium macrorrhizum.

An earlier edition of this volume was published as The Big Book of Herbs
(Interweave Press, 2000).
Published in 2009 by Timber Press, Inc.

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