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PAPALO, Porophyllum ruderale, Mexican herb with a cilantro-like taste


Papalo (Porophyllum ruderale) is an herb from Mexico and South America. The leaves taste like cilantro with a hint of lemon. These are gently scalloped, with evenly-spaced “pores” on the surface. Papalo is easy to grow in the summer (unlike cilatro, which dislikes the heat).

The name derives from “papalotl” which means “butterfly” in Nahuatl, since the leaves supposedly mimic the movement of butterfly wings in a breeze.

It is an annual in the cold and temperate parts of the world, and will die off in freezing temperatures, but it will leave behind many small, elongated seeds with tufts of hair at one end that will sprout when spring returns.

In Bolivia, papalo is used in treating liver ailments and for high blood pressure.

Papalo predates cilantro’s use in Mexican and South American cuisine, so the dishes that are commonly served with cilantro today (such as salsa) would have used papalo instead.

It is also known as Quelite, Quillquina, summer cilantro, and Bolivian coriander.

The leaves of this plant from Central America are used for flavoring in guacamole, tacos, stews or salsa, or eaten raw in salads. The flavor is distinctive and pungent and is often compared to arugula and cilantro with citrus.

Papalo grows in full sun but can tolerate partial shade. It can take average soil, and germinates easily. Plant it directly in the ground spring to summer in warm moist soil.

This herb is used in soups, stews, on meats, beans and salads. Leaves possess huge oil glands which give papalo its potent flavor and scent. The flavor gets stronger the older the leaves get. It grows up to 2 meters (8 feet) high, but can be harvested at a much smaller stage when the flavor is milder.

Papalo is not cooked, only used fresh or added at the last moment. If you like cilantro, you need to try this herb!

– Azul

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