Post image for Wishlist: Myrrhis odorata

Wishlist: Myrrhis odorata

by Andrew Keys on February 16, 2011

I have a love/hate relationship with seed catalogs. I’ve never had much luck with seeds, but seed companies often sell interesting plants you don’t find for sale otherwise, and I’ve found no catalog with narrative more enticing than Horizon Herbs.

I ordered a copy of Horizon’s catalog because I’d stumbled across Myrrhis odorata in an old Rodale book on Herbs and was bowled over by the ferniness of its leaves coupled with those delicious umbels. But of course, Myrrhis isn’t a plant you find for sale, and Myrrhis is a plant that’s difficult to transplant, much like its more leggily elegant cousin Queen Anne’s lace. Of course it is!

So I ordered Myrrhis seeds. I direct sowed them, as specified, in a spot I thought they’d like. I watered them. I watered some more. I peered at tiny plants that came up, not knowing whether or not they were Myrrhis, finally discerning they were weed seedlings, and giving up.

Imagine my surprise when, the following spring, Myrrhis seedlings appeared out of nowhere. I learned two things from this: seeds are viable a lot longer than the package might say, and it’s easier to sow seeds in fall and give them the whole winter to settle in. (I tried more last year.)

These plants have been a wonder to watch develop, and I swear I can smell their anise scent on the breeze whenever I pass by them in the garden. What’s more, while they died back a bit in last year’s drought summer, they came back ASAP when rain returned, and produced more seed for me. What more could you ask? I’d be glad for them to spread.

Myrrhis, as you can probably tell, is a member of the Apiaceae family, which we’ve discussed here before. Cousins include the carrots on your table, herbs like lovage and coriander, as well as garden plants like Eryngium.

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