Mariel Escalante

Country of origin: Mexico
Plant: Epazote

An annual herb, epazote (botanical name Dysphania ambrosioides) grows up to a height of 1 meter. While the stems of this herb are reddish and overlaid with small, sharply jagged leaves, the plant has numerous branches. Epazote produces several tiny yellow hued flowers in group along the stems. The flowers give way to small fruit clusters and each fruit contains several thousand minuscule black seeds. This herb can bepropagated very easily from its plentiful seeds. This is one reason why people often think that epazote is an invasive weed. The entire epazote herb emits a potent and typical smell.
Epazote is indigenous to Mexico as well as the Central and South American regions having tropical climatic conditions. In these places, epazote is generally used in the form of a culinary herb, in addition to a medicinal plant. This herb has been naturalized extensively across the globe and it can now be found growing naturally in various regions of southern United States. In Brazil, people have named the plant mastruço or erva-de-santa-maria, while it is called paico in Peru. In Mexico and all over Latin America, this herb is known as epazote. This plant is also known as siona, which denotes a “worm remedy”.

Apart from the tropical regions, epazote is also cultivated in several regions in Europe and North America where the climatic conditions are warm and temperate. In these places, the herb often turns out to be an invasive species.