COSTMARY (Chrysanthemum Balsamita)
Requires six hours or more
of strong, direct sun per day.
A perennial that may grow to as much as five to six feet with flowers like small daisies, costmary is cultivated by herbalists and gardeners for its medicinal, aromatic and culinary properties.
Its leaves are used for flavoring foods and tea, and for their fragrance. They are also said to be helpful as a moth preventative.
The name of this herb comes from the Latin, costus (oriental plant), and the biblical figure, Mary. Costmary has a special place in Christian tradition.|
It was originally cultivated in the Orient, but soon spread to sixteenth century England and later to the American colonies. Colonists used the leaves as bookmarks in their Bibles and prayer books. The plant earned its name as "bible leaf" from this practice.
Costmary was also used as a cure for dysentery, liver diseases, ulcers, and even consumption as late as the eighteenth century.
The costmary plant is best kept in the background of the garden as it grows large and is somewhat coarse. It is hardy, easily cultivated and does well in average soil that is dry and full of sunshine.
The plant is propagated by dividing its roots, since there is no seed. This makes costmary difficult to come by. Plants should be divided in the spring. Costmary will thrive wherever well-drained soil and full sun are provided.|
Harvesting is recommended before the costmary leaves turn yellow. Harvest in small quantities. The leaves dry quickly at 100░F (37.78░C) and can be stored for long periods of time.
Costmary is a most versatile herb. It was used in the United States as an astringent and antiseptic until the 1800's. It makes a minty spice for flavoring ale, salads, vegetables, and other foods. A conserve can be made from its flowers.
The sweet fragrance of costmary can be used to freshen musty rooms and closets. The herb also makes a popular tea.
Costmary as a companion plant
The home gardener can benefit from this herb. Costmary helps control weeds, in the garden, and gives spring flowers an attractive green background. It also forms a slow-growing edge in any garden.
Try growing costmary in your garden and explore it's many properties. Not only will you gain new insite into this plant you will also add spicey health to your diet.