Native Russian flora include many herbs and spices that have found their way onto spice racks around the globe. The familiar dill weed originated in parts of Russia, as did Russian tarragon and sage. Russian herbs and spices aren't limited to culinary applications---herbalists use Russian plants, such as the Russian comfrey, for medicinal purposes as well. For fun or gardening, get familiar with herb and spices that literally have Russian roots.
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The perennial shrub, Perovskia atriplicifolia, commonly known as Russian sage, grows from 2 to 3 feet tall in full sun. The plant features silver-grey leaves and blooms in blue flowers between July and September. The plant is drought-tolerant and grows well in USDA plant hardiness zone 5 through 9. Russian sage is used in cooking, folk remedies and bound in bundles and burnt as a kind of incense. The plant is used in landscaping, and its foliage and flowers attract butterflies.
Dill, Anethum graveolens, originated in parts of southern Russian and finds a place in Russian pickles and borscht. The young leaves and the mature flowers of the plant are harvested for use as a flavouring. Dill is typically sowed in spring and its harvest may be used fresh or dried. Butterfly larvae feed on the plant, making it a wonderful addition to gardens.
Amoracia rusticana, common name "horseradish", orinated in the Balkans and southern Russia. This pungent herb is most often used as a condiment and frequently mixed with prepared mustard seed to create "spicy" mustard. In the culinary world, horseradish is used grated or ground. Consumption of raw horseradish has a clearing effect on nasal congestion.
Russian comfrey, Symphytum x uplandicum, is a frost-hardy, perennial herb with a long---and lately somewhat controversial---history of medicinal use. An alternative common name for the plant is "healing herb." Uses for it in folk medicine include compresses for all manner of broken bones, bruises and burns. The Russian variety of comfrey grows to a tall 6 feet, and it blooms in purplish-blue to pink flowers from late spring to summer. Be wary of consuming it internally, however, in more than very small doses---comfrey contains hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids, chemicals known to damage liver cells, according to the FDA. This plant is especially valuable to organic gardeners, as its very deep roots draw vast quantities of essential nutrients from the soil (potassium in particular), which accumulate in its leaves and make them one of the finest green matter additions to compost piles.
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