Old-fashioned Africans

AFrikaantjes, stinkers... more old-fashioned plants don't exist. As an “alternative, modern “seventy year old, I didn't want to know about such ugly bourgeois flowers as these stinks. It was the scent from my parents' garden, from the garden of my aunts, from the garden of all the neighbors from a long time ago. A strange smell that only now gets meaning, the smell of my native village Hauthem, fragrance that evokes memory of being an adventurous child.

I still don't like the stiff, tough rusty brown Tagetes species, but the other members of the family can please me now. Especially when I discovered that there are also fine family members, species with small ornate orange or yellow flowers but also meter-high wild specimens. And I was completely convinced after acquaintance with their medicinal and slightly hallucinogenic effect, qualities that even the old Aztecs loved.

Take the Tagetes minuta, growing in our Breton garden. It is an African species, from South and Central America, grown for its essential oil and for its aromatic leaves and flowers. He's called Hucatay.
It is an annual herb, member of the Composite family (Asteraceae), with shiny, light green leaves. The leaf edges are slightly sawn. The bottom of the leaf is equipped with a number of multicellular glands, called punctata, which give off a drop anise aroma when you rub far the leaf. These orange-colored glands are also located on the stems and bracts of the pale yellow, little striking flowers.
The taste of hucatay is rather special, you can taste tarragon and basil, but also mint and coriander.

But Tagetes minuta is also an efficient pesticide against ground leaves and medicinally good for respiratory and digestive system 'a decoction made by steeping a “double handful” of the dried plant in boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes is used as a remedy for the common cold; including upper and lower respiratory tract inflammations, and for digestive system complaints; stomach upset, diarrhea, and “liver” ailments. The decoction is consumed warm, and may be sweetened to individual taste (Neher 1968; Parodi 1959; Cavanilles 1802).

Dodonaeus also knew all the Afrikaantjes, and about the naming he writes 'The Brabanders and the Flemings usually call these flowers Tunis flowers. They are nowadays called on the Latin Flos Africanus and Flos Tunetensis, which is flower of Africa or flower of Tunis'.
After the successful campaign of Charles the V. against the Moorish fortress in Tunis in 1596, it was called Flos Africanus. In England, it was thought that the plant came from there. Thus it became Africanus Flos, African flower or Tunis flower. The African, German Afrikane- or Tuneserblume, Studentenblume, Sammetblume, Samtblumen, French fleur africaine, fleur de Tunis and Tagete rose d'Inde, English African marigold and Turkey gilliflower. And the scientific nameTes would be inspired by the Etruscan goddess Tages, who knew the art of divination. Don't be wrong for a plant from the old box.

#planten #kruiden #Afrikaantjes #Tagetes