Tarragon: A Bit of Botany
a bit of botanical information on tarragon

Artemisia dracunculus is a species of perennial herb in the family Asteraceae.

Tarragon grows to heights of 4-5 feet, with slender branched stems. The glossy green leaves are lanceolate with an entire margin, and grow 2–8 cm long and 2–10 mm wide. Tarragon produces flowers in small capitulae 2–4 mm diameter. Each capitulum contains up to 40 yellow or greenish-yellow florets.

Some tarragon plants produce seeds that are generally only sterile, while others produce viable seeds. French tarragon, seldom produces any flowers or seeds. Tarragon has rhizomatous roots and can readily reproduce from these rhizomes.

common names & nomenclature
It is believed that the name tarragon is borrowed from the Persian name for tarragon which is tarkhūn. Others claim it is from the French esdragon, which means “little dragon”.

Also known as:
french tarragon, tarragon, little dragon, mugwort, herbe au dragon

Tarragon, one of the fines herbes
Tarragon: Where in the World
habitat and range for tarragon

Artemisia dracunculus is native to the Caspian Sea area and Siberia; widely cultivated in Europe, Asia, and the United States.

Tarragon: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting tarragon

Tarragon grows by rivers, streams, and grasslands in full sun.

Tarragon is best grown in organically rich, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils.

Help keep tarragon plants robust by dividing the clumps every 3-4 years, however consider replacing the plantsif plant vitality declines. Since any seed produced is generally sterile, French tarragon should be propagated by cuttings or division.

Fresh tarragon leaves may be harvested at any time during the growing season. These leaves may also be dried for later use by cutting the leafy stems in mid-summer and hanging them in bunches in a cool, dry location.

Store dried tarragon leaves in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Tarragon: The Rest of the Story
tarragon history, folklore, literature & more

go for the french
Tarragon comes in two varieties, Russian and French. The former has less oil—and therefore, less flavor—so tarragon almost always implies the French Plant.

Russian tarragon may be grown from seeds, but the more desirable French variety must be propagated from cuttings or root divisions. Divide the roots in spring and plant 1-inch pieces of their tips. Or take cuttings in summer, thin plants to 2-foot spacing.

French tarragon is a perennial with a creeping, serpentine root, and stems that reach 2 feet. Its leaves look like a larger version of rosemary. This herb rarely flowers, and if it does, the fruits are sterile.

Tarragon grows best in rich, well-drained soil under full sun. Make sure the roots do not become waterlogged. If your winter temperatures drop below the teens, mulch well each fall. Divide tarragon roots every few years to retain plants vigor.

Tarragon leaves bruise easily. Harvest them carefully in early summer. Because tarragon loses medicinal value when dried, freeze the fresh herb or preserve it in vinegar.

Tarragon is best known as the main seasoning in bearnaise sauce.