Tanacetum balsamita is a perennial temperate herb known as Costmary, alecost, balsam herb, Bible leaf, or mint geranium.
Costmary is a perennial plant with oval, serrated leaves that can reach a height of 2 m. In summer it produces small yellow button-shaped flowers that appear in clusters.
The name Costmary is derived from the Latin Costus, an Asian plant used as a spice and preserve. "Mary" refers to the Virgin Mary and may be related to the medicinal herbs used in medieval times to relieve labor pains.
Origin and spread
This plant appears to have originated from the Mediterranean. It is unclear whether the plant called "balsamita" described by Columella in AD 70 was the same. Costmary was widely grown in herb gardens and used for medicinal purposes until the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Today it has largely disappeared in Europe, but is still widely used in Southwest Asia. It was used as a place marker in the Bible during medieval times.
How to grow Costmary?
Costmary is a super rare houseplant that is easy to grow and requires regular watering to thrive. They perform best in constant, direct light and should be located less than 1 foot from a window. Costmari prefers well-drained soil. If you repot your plants every time they double in size, you won't need to add fertilizer.
The leaves of this plant are found to contain a variety of essential oils. A Spanish study found that the main component of the oil is carvone, as well as small amounts of β-thujone, t-dihydrocarvone, c-dihydrocarvone, and dihydrocarvone isomers , c-carve alcohol and t-carve alcohol.
In the Middle Ages, costmary was used to treat menstrual problems. In the 18th century it was classified as a laxative, gastrointestinal and astringent. It is recommended against melancholy and hysteria, as well as dysentery and gallbladder disease.
This plant is derived from ancient herbs and was widely grown in Elizabethan knot gardens.
Is Costmary an herb or a spice?
Costmary is an herb known for its balsamic/minty scent and astringent taste. Essential oils from plants are most commonly used in cooking.
What are the benefits of Costmary tea?
Medicinal. Costmary tea is traditionally taken with honey and cloves to relieve pain and cramps. Today: Brew the leaves into a tonic tea to treat coughs, colds, catarrh, and stomach cramps.
How does Costmary taste?
Its bitter, slightly lemony leaves can be used fresh in salads or as a condiment, fresh or dried, especially for meat, poultry and British ales. The dried leaves are also used as tea and potpourri.