Tarragon, Artemisia dracunculusis a species of perennial herb in the sunflower family native to Central Asia, cultivated for its fragrant leaves for condiment and seasoning use.
French tarragon is the variety used for cooking in the kitchen and is not grown from seed; instead it is propagated by root division.
Russian tarragon, Artemisia dracunculus var. having fewer flavors, remains less appreciated.
It is a larger plant (up to 1.6 m), with fertile flowers, gayish green leaves, dull, and covered with hair. It is easier to breed because it produces fertile seeds, unlike French tarragon that produces sterile seeds. Also, it resists much better to the harsh winters of Russia or Canada.
A better substitute for French tarragon is Spanish tarragon (Tagetes lucida), also known as Mexican mint marigold, Mexican tarragon, Texas tarragon, or winter tarragon.
It is much more reminiscent of French tarragon, with a hint of anise. Although not in the same genus as the other tarragons,
Spanish tarragon has a stronger flavor than Russian tarragon that does not diminish significantly with age.
Tarragon has an aromatic property reminiscent of anise, due to the presence of estragole, a known carcinogen.
Tarragon is one of the four fines herbs of French cooking, and is particularly suitable for chicken, fish, and egg dishes.
Tarragon is the main flavouring component of Béarnaise sauce.
Fresh, lightly bruised sprigs of tarragon are steeped in vinegar to produce tarragon vinegar.