Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Mexican Tea, Epazote
Dysphania ambrosioides

Family: Amaranthaceae
Genus: Dysphania (dis-FAY-nee-a) (Info)
Species: ambrosioides (am-bro-zhee-OH-id-eez) (Info)

Synonym:Chenopodium ambrosioides

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

32 members have or want this plant for trade.


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Seed is poisonous if ingested
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
Pale Green

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
4.6 to 5.0 (highly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
over 9.1 (very alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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6 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive tropical_farmen On Jul 10, 2014, tropical_farmen from Lahaina, HI wrote:

Epazote is a very special plant. It's surprising how little attention it gets. It smells odd at first- like a mix of butter, mint and motor oil, but the flavor really grows on you. I love it. I put it in soups and beans and tacos, sometimes a little in my pesto- really unique taste. Grows incredibly easily for me (in Hawaii) and is actually listed as an invasive weed for most parts of the world. Mine just appeared in my garden, I think a single seed had been hanging out for at least two years in some soil of a pot I had from a farm I used to work at. When I dumped out the old soil, it started getting rained on, and poof... epazote!
The leaves and seeds are said to be poisonous- I have never noticed any adverse affects and I eat it often. The essential oil of Epazote contains a very complex mix of terpenes that create the flavor, but the main one, ascaridole, is a powerful treatment for internal parasites, and in its purified form is toxic and actually a volatile explosive. In the past, the essential oil of the plant was mass produced in the US and prescribed by doctors, but very small doses have been known to kill animals and children. That being said, the plant has been used for ages to flavor food and to treat for parasites in livestock and humans.
Regardless of its edibility, this plant is highly desirable as a companion plant. It is wickedly repellent to bugs, probably due to all the different essential oils it contains. In my garden, I have observed that slugs, mites, thrips, leaf hoppers and leaf miners absolutely will not touch any plants that are growing close enough to rub elbows with an epazote, while they certainly help themselves to everything else.
As far as growth suppression on other plants, as some studies suggest epazote may do, I haven't noticed any. In fact the pepper, kale, dill and some other things growing right in the middle of some epazote are the biggest most robust examples in my garden! Maybe just because they have zero bug issues?
I definitely recommend to try growing this plant.

Positive herbalgirl On Mar 2, 2010, herbalgirl from Greensboro, NC wrote:

It was hard to grow from seed planted outside. Several came up; only one lived, but it was hardy. I dried the whole thing not knowing last year that the seeds are poisonous. Am still here, but plan to remove the seeds this year. Have purchased it dried but it was always tasteless and lacking in color. THe one plant we grew dried a pale green and had a fresher flavor. I froze it as I do most of my dried herbs. We use it for beans. Too much is over powering. We use it for flavor and to control the rootie-toot- toot bean notes.( Pouring off the bean soaking water before adding fresh water and then cooking, helps a great deal.) I add the epazote to the cooking water, about a half teaspoon per two cups of dried beans.
I was hoping someone could tell me if starting inside works better than planting the epazote where it is to grow.

Positive Inferi On Jun 13, 2009, Inferi from San Antonio, TX wrote:

This plant grows great in my area. The top foot or so becomes solid seed and dies back during the winter. This spring it grew back in weeks, along with many, MANY seedlings around it, which are doing great. Unfortunately, I will have to remove most of them to keep my garden under control.

Positive BajaBlue On May 3, 2009, BajaBlue from Rancho Santa Rita, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Origins: Indigenous to Central and Southern Mxico, but is today a common neophyte in Europe and the US.

Spice Description: A Mexican herb that has a very strong taste and sometimes has a gasoline or perfumey type odor. It has been used in Mexican cuisine for thousands of years dating back to the
Aztecs who used it for cooking as well as for medicinal purposes.

Epazote has a distinct taste that cannot be replaced by other herbs.

Culinary Uses: Epazote is used fresh in soups, salads and meat dishes; it appears in the recipe for mole verde, a Mexican herb sauce. The most common usage is, however, in bean dishes. The most commonly Epazote flavored foods are Mexican refried beans (frijoles refritos). Refried beans can be made of any type
of small beans, with Epazote; in Southern Mexico, however, cooks would usually use Epazote, especially for black beans. Yet Epazote works well with other kinds of beans, e.g. pinto beans, which are more popular and more easily available in the US and elsewhere.

It is a strong flavored herb even when fresh, with dried being even more concentrated,,,so a little goes a long way. It is best grown in the ground.

As this a tropical to sub-tropical herb,it does best in zones 8+ will survive some light freezes if it doesn't stay below freezing for more than overnight Usually will come back after it freezes.

Ot may be an acquired taste but you will like it when you get used to it. Husband says it is also good in chilaqilees,

DEFINITELY not poisonous! Ot can also be used to cure a human of "worms" according to old herb lore,In my head I have stuck that is also called wormseed because of that use for it, but I will need to research that to be sure, If anyone else finds it or remembers it, please post it here, Tks BB

Positive Monocromatico On Dec 22, 2005, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

This plant simply sprouted in an abandoned container one day. Out of curiosity I smelled the leaves and liked the smell. Got to ID it and searched for information. Tried it in my beans, and hmmmm, it was great! Now I use it every time I cook beans. My family loves it.

Neutral saya On Mar 8, 2005, saya from Heerlen
Netherlands (Zone 8b) wrote:

A bushy upright perennial to 1m, with yellow-green, elliptic, toothed leaves and amber-coloured glandular hairs. It smells strongly of turpentine and ants when crushed. It is common in table drains on disturbed roadsides around the Metropolitan area, and is also known from Albany. Native to tropical America.
(source: Plant Protect Society of WA)

Positive MrJohn On Nov 21, 2003, MrJohn from Waco, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Have had one plant in the ground here in Waco, Texas for two summers now. Haven't used it for cooking yet. Survives the very hot, dry Texas summer and the mild winter. No volunteers have come up so far from seed. Doesn't get afternoon shade. I like it because it's unusual.

Neutral suncatcheracres On Oct 6, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

Well, I must be a klutz because I managed to kill this plant that I bought at a plant fair last spring. I had it in a pot in a semi-sunny spot. I was told it wasn't cold hardy enough to be in the ground in my area, and I don't have a "full sun" place anywhere on my property, so perhaps it didn't get enough sun, or didn't like our months of everyday Summer rain here in Northcentral Florida, zone 8b. I hate it when I kill a plant!

Neutral JeffSeattle On Oct 4, 2003, JeffSeattle from Seattle, WA wrote:

This strong, musky herb is usually used in Mexican cooking to flavor beans, and is said to make them less "gassy." A little goes a long way, and if you grow one plant you will have more than you can ever possibly use. It loses its leaves at first hard frost, but the woody stems sprout again in the spring. Looks like a weed, smells like a weed, and has a weed's instinct for survival!


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (2 reports)
Fresno, California
Lucerne Valley, California
San Jose, California (2 reports)
Santa Cruz, California
Cedar Key, Florida
Savannah, Georgia
Neptune, New Jersey
Greensboro, North Carolina
Portland, Oregon
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
Conroe, Texas
Crandall, Texas
Desoto, Texas
Galveston, Texas
Mcallen, Texas
Speaks, Texas
Waco, Texas
Seattle, Washington

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