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Epazote is an annual plant that grows 2 to 4 feet high (around 1 metre.) It has large, pointed leaves with serrated edges, and produces flowers that are clusters of tiny green balls.

Though considered a weed in North America, it is used in Mexican and Caribbean dishes as an herb. It is typically used in black bean recipes, and in Mexican moles.

Many people find its taste cloying and medicinal, and its smell like gasoline. Those who like it say it has a sweet, mild, citrusy flavour. Those who don't say it smells like skunk.

Epazote can be bought fresh or dried. Fresh, it can be used in salads and scrambled eggs. It the stem seems woody, just discard the stem and use the leaves.

Epazote is not the same as the herb Wormseed (Chenopodium ambrosioides var. anthelminticum), though it is sometimes unhelpfully called Wormseed. Wormseed is closely related to Epazote, but has a particular potency against intestinal worms; thus its name.

Cooking Tips

Some people believe that Epazote in bean dishes can lessen the amount of gas that develops in your stomach. They will use 1 tablespoon fresh per 2 quarts / 2 litres of bean mixture (either chili, boiled beans or bean soup).


No real substitutes; just use another herb that you do like or can get. Some people recommend Mexican Oregano.


Contains an anti-intestinal gas agent; just how effective it is, is anecdotal.

More noteworthy, though, is that Epazote is poisonous in large doses -- it contains Terpene peroxide ascaridole and can cause convulsions, coma, nausea, headache, etc. The flowers and seeds contain much of the toxin.


1 teaspoon dried = 7 fresh leaves = 1 stem

Storage Hints

Store fresh Epazote in refrigerator either in a plastic bag or with its stems in a glass of water for up to 1 week. It is still fine to cook with even if it looks a little wilted.

History Notes

Epazote is native to Mexico, where the Aztecs used it for medicine and cooking. It was brought to Europe in the 1600s by the Spanish from Mexico.

Language Notes

The word "Epazote" comes from the Aztec (Nahuatl) word "epazotl". "Epazotl", in turn, came from "epatl" meaning "skunk" and "tzotl", meaning "sweat". This refers obviously to how the herb smells to some people.

See also:


Angelica; Angostura Bark; Bay Leaf; Borage; Chamomile; Chervil; Chives; Comfrey; Curry Leaves; Dill; Dried Herbs; Epazote; Filé; Folium Indicum; Garlic Greens; Green Garlic; Gruit; Herbes Salées; Herbs; Hops; Jacob's Ladder; Lady's Bedstraw; Lavender; Loroco; Lovage; Marjoram; Mexican Tarragon; Mint; Mugwort Powder; Oregano; Pennywort; Potherbs; Rolling Mincer; Rosemary; Rue; Sachet Bags; Sage; Salad Burnet; Sarsaparilla; Sassafrass; Savoury; Screw Pine Leaves; Shiso Leaves; Silphium; Sorrel; Stevia; Sweet Cicely; Tarragon; Thyme; Trefoil; Valerian; Wild Garlic; Winter Purslane; Wormwood; Yarrow; Yomogi

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Also called:

Hedge Mustard; Jerusalem Parsley; Mexican Tea; Skunkweed; Sweet Pigweed; West Indian Goosefoot; Chenopodium ambrosiodes (Scientific Name); Épazote, Thé du Mexique (French); Jesuitentee, Karthäusertee, Mexicanischer Traubentee, Mexicanisches Teekraut, Wohlriechender Gänsefuß (German); Allemand, Ambrosia, Farinello aromatico (Italian); Kadavoma, Katuayamodakam (Indian)


Oulton, Randal. "Epazote." CooksInfo.com. Published 01 February 2004; revised 06 December 2005. Web. Accessed 03/19/2018. <http://www.cooksinfo.com/epazote>.

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