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epazote, the intrepid weed  RSS feed

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I recently took a tour of community gardens in mostly Latin parts of town and was introduced to this plant.

Now the NYTimes has discovered it! 

From a column entitled "Urban Forager"

"Epazote (Dysphania ambrosioides or Chenopodium ambrosioides), a.k.a pasote or pasotes, Mexican tea and wormseed, is native to Mexico and Central and South America. An annual that can grow to three or four feet, with toothed, lance-shaped leaves, epazote favors full sunlight and is an intrepid weed. I’ve seen it flourishing throughout the city from the summer through mid-autumn, growing in cracks of the pavement, around trees on the sidewalk and in front yards in Brooklyn.

American Indians like the Creek and the Seminole used fresh epazote as a treatment for fever and worms in children. According to the Department of Animal Science at Cornell University, the oil from epazote was used in the early part of the 20th century as a remedy for internal parasites (like ascarids and hookworms) in humans and animals, though the practice was halted for toxicity reasons. (Though the essential oil of epazote is considered toxic, the leaves are safe to consume.)

A Nuyorican friend who knows the herb as pasote, and who learned to gather it in the wild with his grandmother, said his family burned epazote to “cleanse” a room, much as some people burn sage in a new apartment.

Epazote leaves are also used to flavor guacamole and to make beans less gas-producing; it is also used in quesadillas, sopes, tamales, chilaquiles and enchiladas. In the Philippines, it is known as pasotes, and is used to flavor the chicken dish pipian manok."

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