Most of us are familiar with standard culinary herbs: rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, etc. I love them all, and I grow most of them. However, a wide world of possibilities beyond those standard culinary herbs exists.
North America is home to many plants that have been used in cooking, for medicine, and for fragrance — just like the Old World herbs. Some of our North American herbs reminded early European colonists of herbs they knew from back home, and they used them in similar ways.
For example, the leaves of Sweet Bay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) have a sweet-spicy tang that reminded colonists of bay leaves from the Old World, and they were used the same way. Native Americans were using North American herbs for medicine and cooking long before Europeans showed up, and many people still use those plants for such purposes.
Specialists in ethnobotany travel all over the world interviewing native peoples about their uses for the native plants in their environment. One of North America’s leading experts on the ethnobotany and chemistry of herbs will be lecturing at the North Carolina Botanical Garden Sunday afternoon, March 27, 2011. Dr. Art Tucker will not only describe some of his favorite native North American herb plants, he’ll even let you taste some in a simple dish he prepares during the talk.
You can find a full description of the lecture and information on registration here.