Hoja Santa (Piper auritum)
Hoja Santa, also commonly known as Mexican Pepperleaf, Veracruz Pepper, Rootbeer Plant or False Kava is a hardy perennial herb. Hoja Santa is native to northern South American and Mexico. It's native name means "Sacred Leaf".
Giant, velvety heart-shaped leaves grow to 10 inches or more in length. Both leaves and flowers are very aromatic and full of flavor. The flavor is very complex, with delightly notes of licorice, eucalyptus, sassafras, anise, nutmeg, mint, tarragon, and black pepper. The plant spreads from the tuber and will quickly sprout many shoots.
Large, fragrant leaves are used fresh in Mexican cuisine for tamales, wrapping fish or meat and as an essential ingredient in true Mole Verde, the green sauce that originated in the Oaxaca region of Mexico. Fresh Hoja Santa can also be chopped to flavor soups and salads. Despite their culinary popularity, fresh leaves are very difficult to find in grocery stores or at markets, so growing this hardy plant at home is a great idea.