The kitchen herb Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) is cultivated

in England, and more commonly in France, for uses in salads, and

other condimentary purposes. It is the little Dragon Mugwort: in

French, Herbe au Dragon; to which, as to other Dragon herbs,

was ascribed the faculty of curing the bites and stings of venomous

beasts, and of mad dogs. The plant does not fructify in France.

It is of the Composit
order, and closely related to [555] our

common Wormwood, and Southernwood, but its leaves are not

divided. This herb is a native of Siberia, but has been long grown

largely by French gardeners, and has since become widespread in

this country as a popular fruit, also for making a vinegar, and for

adding to salads. The word Tarragon is by corruption a little

dragon. French cooks commonly mix their table mustard with the

vinegar of the herb.

Many strange tales have been told about the origin of the plant, one

of which, scarce worth the noting, runs that the seed of flax put into

a radish root, or a sea onion, and being thus set doth bring forth this

herb Tarragon (so says Gerard).

In Continental cookery the use of Tarragon is advised to temper the

coldness of other herbs in salads, like as a Rocket doth. Neither,

say the authorities, do we know what other use this herb hath.

The volatile essential oil of Tarragon is chemically identical with

that of Anise, and it is found to be sexually stimulating. Probably by

virtue of its finely elaborated camphor it exercises its specific

effects, the fact being established that too much camphor acts in the

opposite direction.

John Evelyn says of the plant 'Tis highly cordial and friendly to the

head, heart, and liver.