Dysphania Species, Epazote, Fragrant Goose Foot, Mexican Tea, Wormseed

Dysphania ambrosioides

Family: Amaranthaceae
Genus: Dysphania (dis-FAY-nee-a) (Info)
Species: ambrosioides (am-bro-zhee-OH-id-eez) (Info)
Synonym:Ambrina ambrosioides
Synonym:Atriplex ambrosioides
Synonym:Chenopodium ambrosioides
Synonym:Neobotrydium ambrosioides
Synonym:Orthosporum ambrosioides




Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Grown for foliage

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


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 Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

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

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

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


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


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... read more


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 t... read more


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.


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 <... read more


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.


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)


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.


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!


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!