This green leafy herb goes by many names and is native to Central America. But it is now grown and eaten throughout Southeast Asia and Latin America. In many larger cities of the U.S., you can find these at the ethnic markets.
The three most common name is Sawtooth coriander (since the edges have little harmless serrated teeth). Another is Mexican coriander or culantro. In Lao and Thai it’s call “Pak Chi Farang”. Scientific name: Eryngium foetidum.
Some say the taste resembles coriander, but I think it taste much more interesting. More like fennel, Asian cilantro and other herbs too. So it’s more like multiple herbs combined in one crispy green leaf. It’s also very fragrant.
And tends to make soups (especially Pho) become more lively and tasty too. The younger leaves are the best, but the bigger leaves are also tasty.
If anyone would like to try growing them, Sand Mountain Herbs has seed packets available for $2.50 (50 seeds).
Recommended growing Zones 11-13 and needs hot and humid weather to grow well. I’m thinking Florida or Hawaii. If planting in full sun, they need lots of water. But the plants will also grow well in shade too. The key to encouraging more leafy growth is to nip out the flower buds once it starts to form. But keep some flower so you can save as seeds for next year’s harvest.
Besides being used for cooking, the sawtooth coriander is also used as herbal medicines. It also dried very well and can be saved for later use like many other herbs.
In Southeast Asian countries, the herb is useful for upper respiratory complaints to gastric upsets. In India, the root can be eaten raw for scorpion stings and is used to alleviate stomach pains.
I don’t think I’ve encounter any herb with so many names as this one. Here is part of the name list (source):
Culantro, spiny or serrated coriander, shado beni, bhandhania, chadron benee, coulante (Haiti), recao, fit weed, azier la fièvre, chardon étoilé, Puerto Rican coriander, shado benni, false coriander, shadow-beni, stinkweed, fitweed, long coriander, mexican coriander, ngo gai, spiritweed, bhandhania, false corriander, ketumbar Java, thorny coriander, long corriander, German Langer Koriander, Mexicanischer Koriander, Black Benny, Saw leaf herb, Saw tooth coriander, Spiny coriander, Fitweed, Chardon étoile fétide, Panicaut fétide, Herbe puante, Coriandre mexicain; Coulante, Hindi Bhandhania, Bhandhanya, Hosszú koriander, Mexikói koriander, Puerto Ricó-i koriander, Indonesian Walangan, Khmer Chi banla, Chi baraing, Chi sangkaech, Chi pa-la, Chi farang, Laotian Phak Hom thet, Malay Ketumbar Jawa, Spanish Culantro, Recao, Racao, Shado beni; Chadron benee, Alcapate, Cilantro habanero, Cilantro extranjero, Mexikansk koriander, Thai Pak chi farang, Hom-pomkula, Mae-lae-doe, Phakchi farang, Ngo gai, Mui tau, Ngo tay.