Rare Herbs For Your Garden: 7 Unusual Herb Plants You Should Grow

By Mary H. Dyer | May 4, 2020
by Mary H. Dyer
May 4, 2020

Many of us are familiar with the many types of herbs that can be grown in the garden. But did you know there are just as many rare herbs that you can easily grow at home too? While they may be lessor known, these fun, new herbs can give your garden, and your menu, something unique that most typical herb varieties simply don’t have.

Growing these uncommon herbs may require a bit of research in regards to their particular care, but they’re definitely worth the additional effort. Here are our top 7 picks for unusual herb plants you should grow in the garden:

  • Toothache plant (Acmella oleracea syn. Spilanthes oleracea) – One of my favorites, the toothache plant is a flowering herb that produces strange little blooms with a bullseye at the tip. Also known as Sichuan buttons or buzz buttons, toothache plant is usually grown as an ornamental; however, chewing the leaves for a few seconds may produce a cooling, numbing feeling in the mouth and throat and can aid with pain associated with toothaches. 
  • Chop Suey greens (Glebionis coronaria) – Also known as crown daisy, Shungiku, Kikuna or Tong Ho, this is a fast-growing plant with aromatic, spicy leaves and attractive yellow blooms. An edible member of the chrysanthemum family, the plant is used in a variety of dishes, including soups, salads, and stir fries.
  • European cutting celery – Par-cel, a little-known herb with dark green leaves and green stalks, is also known as leaf celery or cutting celery. While the leafy green plant looks like parsley, it tastes like fresh, crisp celery. The good news is that par-cel is much easier to grow than celery, which tends to be picky and unforgiving about water and temperature.
  • Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) – Tulsi is an aromatic herb grown traditionally for religious and medical purposes and is often brewed into tea. Also known as holy basil, tulsi has a spicy aroma that may remind you of a combination of peppermint, lemons, licorice, and cloves.
  • Epazote (Dysphania ambrosioides) – Commonly known as Mexican tea, this herb has a strong, unusual taste that has been compared somewhat loosely to oregano. Although epazote is useful for a variety of culinary purposes, its primary use is medicinal, and the tea is said to relieve upset stomach and gas.
  • Tree onions – Tree onions are much like regular onions, but they have a unique growing habit with a cluster of small bulbs that develops at the top of the stalk. As the bulbs grow, the stalk becomes top heavy and bend overs, and new plants develop where the bulbs contact the ground. Can you visualize why tree onions are also known as “walking onions?”
  • Perilla (Perilla frutescens var. crispa) – This is a bushy herb with broad, wrinkly leaves, often tinged with purple. Also known as beefsteak plant, purple mint, shiso, or Chinese basil, perilla is often used in ethnic cuisine, and the aromatic leaves are sometimes dried to make tea. This unusual herb is easy to grow and can become weedy in some climates.
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