San Antonio Herb Market Association
Herb Of The Year for:
2005 Oregano and Marjoram
2006 Scented Geraniums
2007 Lemon Balm
2009 Bay Laurel
2016 Peppers Caspicum ssp.
2020 Rubus ssp. (Blackberries,
Raspberries et al.)
Herb of the Year for 2017 -
For 2017 The International Herb Association has named the herb with a split personality as its annual pick. Coriander/Cilantro or more correctly, Coriandrum sativum has been awarded Herb of the Year for 2017. Because of its nature Coriander begs the question, is this a spice or an herb? Technically, the word coriander can be used to describe the entire plant: leaves, stems, seeds, et al. However, when speaking of coriander, most people are referring to the spice produced from the seeds. The leaves of the plant are commonly called cilantro, which comes from the Spanish word for coriander. I hope you are now sufficiently confused.
So, back to the cultivated herb that we know as Coriandrum sativum L. a genus in the carrot family, formerly known as the family of Umbelliferae but now known as Apiaciaea, apis being the latin name for bee. The leaves are variable in shape, broadly lobed at the base of the plant, and slender and feathery higher on the flowering stems. The flowers are borne in small umbels - think of the ribbed umbrella shape of parsley, carrot, anise, caraway, celery and dill flowers. And the shape of the flower in latin means plateau, a flat landing strip for insects or bees. The flowers are almost always white but can sometimes be a very pale mauve-pink. The fruit or what we call the seed is in botanical terms a “globular, dry schizocarp 3–5 mm in diameter.”
All parts of this herbal spice plant are edible, but the fresh leaves and the dried seeds are the parts most traditionally used in cooking. Coriander is common in Asian, Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, Central Asian, Mediterranean, Indian, Tex-Mex, Latin American, Portuguese, Chinese, African, and Scandinavian cuisines as well as in spice blends including curry powders, chili powders, garam masala, berbere and the more prosaic pickling spice blend. I think we can safely say it is a plant growing without bias.
The International Herb Association established National Herb Week in 1991 and every year since 1995 they have chosen an Herb Of The Year. The Herb Of The Year is based on it being outstanding in 2 of 3 categories: Medicinal, Culinary or Decorative.
The original use of herbs was for medicine. In ancient Egypt, China, Greece and Assyria the treatment of diseases was performed by the use of herbs and spices either ingested or used as a poultice. That herbal knowledge has carried forward over the generations; and today in our western society and we are looking to the past to remember what our grandmothers did for curing their households. The culinary side of herbs has just as rich a history. There is no substitute for clipping a handful of basil, mint, cilantro, or thyme from your garden to add flavor and freshness to your dinner table.
What Is An Herb? According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, an herb is defined as a "(1) seed plant that lacks woody tissue and dies to the ground at the end of a growing season. (2) A plant or plant part valued for medicinal or savory qualities"
The value of the plant can be in its leaves, stems, seeds or root. They are valued and harvested for their flavor, healthful qualities, fragrance or dye. Examples such as mint, oregano, cilantro and basil are harvested for their leaves which we primarily use in our kitchens.
Spices are the woody parts or seeds of herbaceous plants. Examples are caraway, fennel, sesame, black pepper and cinnamon.