(Cassava, Manioc, Tapioca Plant, Yuca)
Having many economic uses of its starchy root, cassava has ornate hand-like (palmate) leaves and small, curious flowers lacking petals. This upright, bushy tender tropical perennial with semi-woody stems is native to northern South America in a north-south swath across the Amazon River Basin from the Caribbean Sea to Bolivia. Although a frost-tender plant, it is root hardy in regions with frosty, mild winters and will quickly rejuvenate when soil warms in spring.
The dark green leaves have an...
James H. Schutte
(Variegated Cassava, Variegated Tapioca)
This deciduous tropical tree is an agricultural crop in the tropics where its fleshy roots are the source of tapioca. It is a native of southern Brazil and has long been cultivated by indigenous peoples who harvest the roots that resemble yams. The processed food product made from cooked, ground roots is known as cassava or yuca. This variegated form is much smaller with the proportions of a shrub, with semi-woody stems, truly being a tropical herb. The foliage is composed of dinner-plate sized...
James H. Schutte
(German Chamomile, Scented Mayweed)
A familiar component of herb gardens and herbal teas, this Eurasian annual is grown for its dainty, fragrant foliage and its charming white daisy-flowers. It is distinct from Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), a hardy perennial with more strongly flavored and scented leaves.
The upright, many-branched stems of this medium to tall annual are furnished with finely divided, ferny, aromatic leaves. Small, white, yellow-eyed daisies are borne above the foliage from early summer to autumn....
Audrey, Eve and George DeLange
An important forage plant and a common introduced weed throughout most of the world's temperate zones, this lax-stemmed perennial originated in western Asia and the Caucasus. It is sometimes grown as an annual crop.
Hairy, blue-green, compound leaves with three leaflets alternate along alfalfa's upright to sprawling, calf- to waist-high stems. The leaflets have toothed tips. Small, rounded to cylindrical clusters of blue to violet pea-flowers are produced from late spring to summer. Butterflies...
(Gold Leaf Lemonbalm, Lemonbalm)
The lemony leaves of lemonbalm are fragrant and wonderful, and the pretty gold 'Gold Leaf' offers an added punch of color. The leaves of this pretty herb can also be used for tea and potpourri.
Lemonbalm is a hardy perennial herb in the mint family. The clump-forming 'Gold Leaf' offers golden foliage early in the season that mellows to bright chartreuse green by summer. Inconspicuous white or pale pink flowers appear in late spring to summer. The flowers are pollinated by bees and set lots of...
Gerald L. Klingaman
(Creeping Cucumber, Drooping Melonette)
A fast-growing vine with small, ivy-like leaves and curly tendrils, the creeping cucumber or drooping melonette produces very small fruits that look like jelly bean-size watermelons. This perennial deciduous vine (although evergreen where frost never occurs) is native from the southern half of the United States to northern Argentina. The weedy vines will ramble across the soil like a groundcover, or quickly climb upward on a trellis, fence, shrub or tree.
The plants are frost-tender and need...
(Mexican Sour Gherkin Cucumber, Mouse Melon)
Widely grown and eaten across Central America before the arrive of Christopher Columbus, mouse melons are an intriguing New World "cucumber" with miniature, tasty and ornamental fruits. They are small, 1-inch (2.5 cm) ovals: about the size of pigeon eggs, cherry tomatoes or American quarter coins. The fruit skin is deep green and silvery-green mottled, resembling Liliputian-size watermelons. Perfect for fresh snacking, adding to salads or pickling, mouse melons have a sweet cucumber-like taste that...
James H. Schutte
A tiny, ground-hugging perennial, Corsican mint compensates for its small leaves with incredible vigor. Hailing from the island of Corsica, the species is also found in southern France and Italy. In the wild it prefers damp shady locations, seeps and natural springs where it forms a ground hugging mat of dark-green foliage. The rounded leaves may be slightly hairy and when crushed emit a potent, minty fragrance. Corsican mint blooms in summer with small lilac-blue flowers that stand out above the...