Huacatay (Tagetes minuta)Regular price $18.95
Huatacay, or Peruvian Black Mint, is a fragrant herb native to the Peruvian Andes that is a perennial in warm regions and grown as an annual in cooler zones. It is related to ornamental Marigolds but is a culinary herb in South American cuisines and has medicinal and insecticidal properties as well. Local names for Huacatay will vary by region, but are found in literature as wakataya, chinchilla, chiquilla, chilca, zuico, suico, or the Spanish term, anisillo.
Huatacay grows 18 to 48 inches tall and wide and has toothed leaves and small, creamy white flowers that bloom in the fall. The flowers and foliage have an aroma of anise and taste of basil, licorice, citrus, and mint. They are popularly used as a condiment in meat, poultry, and seafood dishes, and to flavor salads, soups, stews, sauces, and even beverages.
The foliage is a source of iron, potassium, and calcium and has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. Tea, made from fresh or dried leaves, is said to ease colds and respiratory issues. In addition to its other qualities, Huatacay is also a natural insect repellent, herbicide, and nematicide.
It grows quickly in full sun to partial shade in rich, well-draining soil. Huatacay is self-seeding and is hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11.