Tagetes lucida

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Tagetes lucida
Botanischer Garten Erlangen, Germany
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Tagetes
T. lucida
Binomial name
Tagetes lucida
  • Tagetes anethina Sessé & Moc.
  • Tagetes florida Sweet
  • Tagetes gilletii De Wild.
  • Tagetes lucida f. florida (Sweet) Voss
  • Tagetes pineda La Llave
  • Tagetes schiedeana Less
  • Tagetes seleri Rydb.
Tagetes lucida - MHNT

Tagetes lucida is a perennial plant native to Mexico and Central America. It is used as a medicinal plant and as a culinary herb. The leaves have a tarragon-like scent, with hints of anise, and it has entered the nursery trade in North America as a tarragon substitute. Common names include sweetscented marigold,[3] Mexican marigold, Mexican mint marigold, Mexican tarragon, sweet mace, Texas tarragon, pericón, yerbaniz, and hierbanís.


Tagetes lucida grows 45–75 cm (18–30 in) tall and requires full sun to light shade.[4] Depending on the variety or landrace, the plant may be fairly upright, while other forms appear bushy with many unbranching stems. The leaves are linear to oblong, about 7.5 cm (3 in) long, and shiny medium green, not blue-green as in French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus var. sativa). In late summer it bears clusters of small golden yellow flower heads on the ends of the stems. The flower heads are about 15 mm (12 in) across and have 3–5 golden-yellow ray florets.[5] The flowers are hermaphroditic (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by insects.[6]

Traditional use[edit]

Tagetes lucida was used by the Aztecs in a ritual incense known as Yauhtli, as well as being dedicated to the rain god Tlāloc.[7][8] Tagetes lucida is still in use today primarily as a tea to treat the common cold, intestinal gas and diarrhea.[9]

It has been reported that the Huichol of Mexico use the plant as an entheogen by smoking Tagetes lucida with Nicotiana rustica, and that Tagetes lucida is occasionally smoked alone as an hallucinogen.[10] Archaeologists found that the Maya used Tagetes lucida as an additive in tobacco mixtures.[11][12]

Tagetes lucida also had many culinary uses by the Aztecs including as one of the ingredients added to make the drink chocolatl, which gave it a spicy flavor.[13] Fresh or dried leaves are also used as a tarragon substitute for flavoring soups and sauces. A pleasant anise-flavored tea is brewed using the dried leaves and flower heads. This is primarily used medicinally in Mexico and Central America.[14]

A yellow dye can also be obtained from the flowers, and when the plant is dried and burnt, it is used as an incense and to repel insects.[15]

In one study, methanolic extract from the flower inhibited growth of Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, and Candida albicans cultures. This effect was enhanced with exposure to ultraviolet light. The roots, stems, and leaves also had the same effect when irradiated with ultraviolet light.[16]


The plant contains the following compounds:


  1. ^ "Tagetes lucida". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2011-10-09.
  2. ^ The Plant List, Tagetes lucida Cav.
  3. ^ USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Tagetes lucida". The PLANTS Database (plants.usda.gov). Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  4. ^ "Growing Mexican Tarragon: Tagetes lucida". Garden Oracle.
  5. ^ Christman, Steve (2004-02-27). "#614 Tagetes lucida". Floridata.
  6. ^ "Tagetes lucida - Cav". Plants For A Future.
  7. ^ "Tagetes lucida - Marigolds- Americas to Argentina". Entheology. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
  8. ^ Graulich, Michel (2005). Le Sacrifice humain chez les Aztèques [Human sacrifice among the Aztecs]. Paris: Fayard.
  9. ^ Davidow, Joie (1999). Infusions of healing: a treasury of Mexican-American herbal remedies. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0684854163.
  10. ^ Schultes, Richard; Hofmann, Albert (1979). Plants of the Gods: Origins of Hallucinogenic Use. New York: McGraw-Hill. p. 57. ISBN 0-07-056089-7.
  11. ^ Zimmermann, Mario; Brownstein, Korey J.; Pantoja Díaz, Luis; Ancona Aragón, Iliana; Hutson, Scott; Kidder, Barry; Tushingham, Shannon; Gang, David R. (2021-01-15). "Metabolomics-based analysis of miniature flask contents identifies tobacco mixture use among the ancient Maya". Scientific Reports. 11 (1): 1590. Bibcode:2021NatSR..11.1590Z. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-81158-y. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 7810889. PMID 33452410.
  12. ^ Ratner, Paul (2021-01-18). "Archaeologists identify contents of ancient Mayan drug containers". Big Think. Retrieved 2021-02-25.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ "Mexican Tarragon Tagetes lucida". The Herb Society of America.
  14. ^ Laferrière, Joseph E., Charles W. Weber and Edwin A. Kohlhepp. 1991b. Mineral contributions from some traditional Mexican teas. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition 41:277–282.
  15. ^ "Mexican Tarragon (Tagetes lucida)". UIC Heritage Garden.
  16. ^ Nader, Laura (1996). Naked Science: Anthropological Inquiry Into Boundaries, Power, and Knowledge. Routledge. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-415-91465-9.
  17. ^ a b c Bicchi, Carlo; et al. (1998-12-04). "Constituents of Tagetes lucida Cav. ssp. lucida Essential Oil". Flavour and Fragrance Journal. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 12 (1): 47–52. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1099-1026(199701)12:1<47::AID-FFJ610>3.0.CO;2-7.
  18. ^ Cicció JF (December 2004). "A source of almost pure methyl chavicol: volatile oil from the aerial parts of Tagetes lucida (Asteraceae) cultivated in Costa Rica". Rev. Biol. Trop. 52 (4): 853–7. PMID 17354394.
  19. ^ a b Okun, Ronald (1977). Pharmacology & Toxicology Annual Review. Annual Reviews, Incorporated. p. 656. ISBN 978-0-8243-0417-1.
  20. ^ Bohm, Bruce A.; Tod F. Stuessy (2007). Flavonoids of the sunflower family (Asteraceae). Springer. p. 597. ISBN 978-3-211-83479-4.

External links[edit]