Herb production may be for culinary purposes (food flavoring), for scents and
fragrances (potpourris), for medicinal uses or others (dyes, dried floral arrangements
etc). Herb producers often grow for all these markets, and some herbs may be used for all
Some of the most popular culinary herbs grown commercially and by home
gardeners and hobbyists are: basil, cilantro (coriander), chervil, dill, oregano, mint,
parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme.
Information on herbs may be obtained from library references, seed catalogs,
special garden books and some public bulletins. Because of the highly specialized nature
of herb production, public bulletins are minimal and the information contained in them
is very general. For these reasons, this document will only give a limited amount of
general information on culinary herbs or those that may be used for culinary and other
Medicinal herbs are so specialized and often controversial that mention of
their use will be ancillary, and only if the herb is also used for culinary purposes.
Two valuable references on medicinal herbs are The Honest Herbal (1993) and Herbs of Choice (1994), both by Varro
E. Tyler, Ph.D., and published by Haworth Press Inc., New York City. Dr. Tyler was for 20 years the Dean of the School
of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Purdue University. He has published extensively on
this subject and is a nationally and internationally recognized expert on medicinal herbs.
Valuable web resources on herbs in general include the
Herbs Directory operated by the
Dept. of Horticulture at Pennsylvania State University,
and Herb/Spice Industry from the Alberta
Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development, Herb Growing and Marketing Network ,
International Herb Assoc., and
Growing and Selling Fresh-Cut Herbs. Books include
'Culinary Herbs' by Ernest Small, published by the National Research Council of Canada, and
'The Cornell Book of Herbs and Edible Flowers' by Jeanne Mackin (Cornell Coop. Extension), and 'Rodale's Illustrated
Encyclopedia of Herbs', from Rodale Press. Newsletters include 'The Herb, Spice, and Medicinal Plant Digest', edited by L.E. Craker,
Dept. of Plant & Soil Sciences, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, and Herb World,
from The Herb Growing and Marketing Network.
Herbs most commonly grown in the Pacific Northwest are mostly adapted to sunny,
warm locations. Those listed are generally adapted
to a wide range of soil types. Herbs need minimal irrigation, particularly as they
mature and their aromatic and flavor compounds are developing.
Fertilizer requirements are basic, usually being limited to N, P, and K. In
some cases lime is needed to maintain soil pH near neutral, but most are adapted to a wide
range of soil pH (5.5-7.5). Nitrogen is usually applied at 75-150 lb/acre depending on the
harvested product (leaves or seeds). Timing of nitrogen applications is dependent on whether
the species is annual, biennial or perennial. Phosphorous is applied at 50-200 lb/acre and
potassium at 0-150 lb/acre depending on the above-mentioned characteristics of the crop and soil test.
Harvest timing and equipment are also specific to the herbs being produced.
Often, considerable hand labor is required in production and harvest operations,
particularly when the marketable leafy portions of some must be separated from stems, or where
only the floral parts are required. Small motorized clippers are often used as harvester
aids. Sometimes, when seeds are the marketable product, combines, often specially adapted, are
used. Where the distilled oil is the marketable product, there are those who provide
custom distillation using portable or stationary stills.
The harvested product often requires immediate special handling such as
drying, separation of leaves or seed, and temporary packaging storage to best preserve its color,
aroma, flavor, the integrity of its appearance and sanitary condition.
VARIETIES AND SPECIES
The following is a listing of some of the herbs that may be produced in the
Pacific Northwest, a brief description, their taxonomic classification, common
synonyms, general uses, and production considerations.
Five characteristics or cultural practice considerations are coded and
separated by a slash (/). The codes are represented as follows:
Life cycle: annual (a)/ biennial (b)/ perennial
Established by: Seed (s)/ divisions (d)/ cuttings (c)/
or transplants (t).
Planting time: Spring (sp)/ after frost danger (af)/ fall
Plant size: as listed next.
Preferred site: Full sun (fs)/ part shade (ps)/ also a potted
Uses are represented by the abbreviations:
Flavorings (FLA), tea (TEA), fragrances (FRA),
ornamental (ORN), folk medicine (MED), and all of the
NAME/SYNONYMS Latin name USES
Angelica Angelica spp.
an herbaceous aromatic herb.
about 50 spp. Sometimes planted for
bold ornamental effects.
Angelica Angelica archangelica
(b/s/fa/6-7'/ps, fs) FLA,FRA,ORN,MED
Anise Pimpinella spp. Herbaceous perennials
and sometimes annuals numbering about
75 species of which only anise is cultivated.
Anise Pimpinella anisum
(a/s/sp/1.5'/ms, fs) FLA,FRA,MED
Anise-hyssop/anise mint, Korean mint
Balm (see lemon balm)
Basil Ocimum spp. About 60 little-known species of
which only basil is important. More than a
dozen types are grown for seasoning and their
pleasing fragrance. Only the more common ones
are listed. Frost sensitive.
Basil, bush O. basilicum
Basil, cinnamon O. basilicum
Basil, Genovese/sweet Italian O. basilicum
Basil, purple ruffles O. basilicum
Basil, licorice O. basilicum
Basil, sweet O. basilicum (main basil used)
Basil, lemon O. basilicum citrodorum
(Sweet Dani - new, true breeding variety
from Purdue University New Crops Center)
Basil, dark opal O. basilicum purpurescence
Basil, sacred O. basilicum sanctum
Basil, spicy globe O. basilicum minimum
(a/s/sp-af/6"/fs, pot) FLA,FRA,ORN
Bergamot/Bee balm Monarda didyma
Borage Borago officinalis
Burnet salad Sanguisobia minor
Calamintha (see Savory)
Calendula, pot marigold Calendula officinalis
both orange and yellow types available.
Caraway Carum carvi
Catnip Nepeta cataria
Chamomile Matricaria recutita
an important medicinal plant
Chamomile/German chamomile Matricaria recutita
Chamomile/Roman chamomile Chamaemelum nobile
Chervil Anthriscus cerefolium
(a/s/sp/1'-2'/ps,fs) bolts easily FLA,RA,ORN,MED
Chives Allium schoenoprasum
Chives/Chinese garlic/garlic chives Allium tuberosum
Citronella (see lemongrass)
Cilantro Coriandrum sativum (the Spanish name
for the fresh leaves of coriander, also
known as Chinese parsley); bolts at high
temperatures. Use bolting resistant varieties,
such as Santo, or grow during cool weather.
Coriander Coriandrum sativum (same as cilantro but
grown for its seed) a/s/sp/3'/fs) FLA,FRA,MED
Corn-salad/mache/lamb's lettuce Valerianella olitoria
and Italian corn-salad V. eriocarpa
There are more than 50 species. This northern
hemisphere green is grown in the Mediterranean
region, where the two species listed are grown
as garden greens. The crop was often inter-
planted with corn, thus the name.
Cress, curly, garden, pepper-grass Lepidium sativum
Cress, water Nasturtium officinale
Cress, winter/upland Barbarea verna
See Upland Cress for more information.
Cumin Cuminum cyminum
(a/s/sp/1'-2'/fs) like coriander FLA,MED
Dill Anethum graveolens
See file Dill for more information.
Fennel, Florence/sweet fennel/finocchio Foeniculum
vulgare dulce (perennial, but grown as an
annual for its bulb) and Fennel seed/wild
fennel Foeniculum vulgare (grown for the
seed). Zefa fino (Royal Sluis) best root type
evaluated, has resistance to bolting (Indiana).
Days from seeding to bulb harvest range from
100 to 120. (p,a/s/sp/3'-4'/fs) ALL
Fenugreek Trigonella foenum-graecum
Geranium, scented Pelargonium spp. Warm areas.
Several forms and hybrids include: Rose-
scented P. capitatum, nutmeg P. fragrans,
apple P. odoratissimum, lemon P. crispum,
pine-scented P. denticulatum, mint P.
tomentosum and others.
Horehound, white Marrubium vulgare
Hyssop, blue Hyssopus officinalis
Lamb's lettuce (See corn-salad)
Lavender, true Lavandula vera, and more than 28
other species. Two main species, Lavandula
latifolia (spike or sweet lavender) and
L. angustifolia (English/French lavender)
and their hybrids (some sterile) are used
in commerce. (p/c,s/sp/2'-3'/fs) ALL
Lemongrass/citronella Cymbopogon sp., primarily
East Indian Cymbopogon flexuosus, and West
Indian Cymbopogon citratus
(p/d/sp/3'/fs,pot) not winter-hardy FLA,TEA,FRA,MED
Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis
(p/s,c,d/sp/1 1/2'-2'/fs) ALL
Lemon verbena Aloysia triphylla
Licorice Glycyrrhiza glabra
Lovage Levisticum officinale
Mache (see corn-salad)
Marjoram, sweet Origanum majorana (see also oregano)
Mint Mentha sp.
Japanese mint M. arvensis piperescens ALL
Peppermint M. x M. piperita vulgaris ALL
or M. x M. piperita officinalis ALL
Bergamot mint M. x M. piperita citrata ALL
Pennyroyal, European M. pulegium FLA,FRA,MED
or American Hedeoma pulegioides FLA,FRA,MED
Corsican mint M. requienii ALL
Spearmint M. spicata ALL
Apple mint M. suaveolens ALL
Pineapple mint M. suaveolens variegata ALL
Mustard, condiment Brassica sp.
black B. nigra FLA,MED
brown B. juncea FLA,MED
white B. alba FLA,MED
yellow mustard B. hirta FLA,MED
See Condiment Mustard in Mustard Greens file
for more information.
Nasturtium Tropaeolum majus
(p,a/s/sp/1'-2'/fs, pot) FLA,ORN
Oregano is of primarily two unrelated genera,
Origanum and Lippia. European oregano is
also call wild marjoram, winter marjoram,
oregano and organy, and is Origanum
vulgare. Greek oregano, also called winter
sweet marjoram, or pot marjoram is
Origanum heracleoticum (formerly O. hirtum).
Mexican oregano, also called Mexican sage,
origan, oregamon, wild marjoram, Mexican
marjoram or Mexican wild sage is Lippia
Oregano, European Origanum vulgare
Oregano, Greek Origanum heracleoticum
Oregano, Mexican Lippia graveolens (not in the
Parsley, Chinese (see Cilantro)
Parsley, curly and Italian Petroselinum hortense
See file Parsley for more information.
Pennyroyal (see "mint" above)
Poppy Papaver somniferum, seed and opium poppy;
P. orientale, morphine-free medicinal poppy.
Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis
Saffron Crocus sativus, pollen of crocus flower
Sage Salvia officinales, several types including
dwarf, mammoth, purple, golden, and tricolor.
Others are: Pineapple S. elegans, Mexican
S. leucantha, scarlet S. splendens, and
Clary S. sclarea (a biennial).
Savory Satureja sp. About 180 species. Aromatic
herbs and shrubs, border or pot-herb plants.
Warm regions. Two main types: Summer savory,
Satureja hortensis, an annual, and Winter or
creeping winter savory, Satureja montana, a
perennial. An evergreen perennial used
mainly for tea is Satureja douglasii.
Sesame Sesamum indicum. (for warm areas only)
Spearmint (see "mint" above)
Tarragon, French Artemisia dracunculus sativa
Not winter-hardy. The related Russian
tarragon is more winter-hardy, but of
Thyme, common, English, French, garden
Thymus vulgaris. Over 300 species
and their hybrids such as lemon thyme
T. x citriodorus.
thyme, creeping T. serpyllum
Valerian, garden heliotrope Valeriana officinalis
Wintergreen Gaultheria procumbens
Woodruff, sweet Galium odoratum
PEST CONTROL FOR HERBS
Few pesticides are registered for use in herb production. In some cases
apply to the use of pesticides in products that will be concentrated
(distilled or processed in
The Pacific Northwest Weed Control Handbook has no control
entries for this crop. Cultivate as often as necessary when
weeds are small. Proper cultivation, field selection and
rotations can reduce or eliminate the need for chemical weed
The Pacific Northwest Insect Control Handbook has no control
entries for this crop. Proper rotations and field selection can
minimize problems with insects.
The Pacific Northwest Disease Control Handbook has no
control entries for this crop.
Proper rotations, field selection, sanitation, spacings,
fertilizer and irrigation practices can reduce the risk of many
diseases. Fields can be tested for presence of harmful
nematodes. Using seed from reputable sources reduces risk from
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