Growing & using Curry Plant
Curry Plant flourishes in hot dry climates similar to its native country of Turkey. This climate enhances its oils and aroma. Curry Plant’s little yellow button flowers also attract beneficial insects.
Related to the very popular dried Strawflower, Curry Plant proves once again that the useful plants in a genus don’t usually inherit the beauty genes. It seems illustrators, and even some purveyors of Curry Plant oil, tend to confuse this Helichrysum with the Strawflower. We have found numerous photos of Strawflowers used to represent Curry Plant. Even in the Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, a great book for describing oils and their benefits, there is a photo of the right leaves but a drawing of the wrong flower. They even confuse the common names of Immortelle and Everlasting with Curry Plant. These names apply to the beautiful Strawflower but certainly don’t describe the wispy H. italicum.
Another common misconception is that Curry Plant is the tropical tree Murraya koenigii whose leaves are used in curries. This small tree is extremely rare in this country and for us has not performed well even in a greenhouse situation.
Helichrysum oil has recently been reinvestigated as a medicinal herb. It is reputed to be good for bruises and varicose veins. But, you will probably have to make your own oil or infusion. There is very little oil commercially available which tends to make it a bit pricey. The Home Herbal is a great source for how to make almost any kind of medicinal preparation from your own herbs.
With Curry Plant the million dollar question is, “What does it taste like?” Why do you think we gave you the medicinal value first? While not very tasty, Curry Plant smells strongly like Curry spices. But, Curry Plant is not where Curry Seasoning comes from. Curry is actually a blend of many different herbs and spices that can vary from region to region.
When Curry Plant is mentioned with food, it is always used sparingly, a few leaves in a mayonnaise or a sprig tucked in a cavity of a chicken. The flavor is not Curry but is strong. It is also difficult to describe. However, trimming Curry Plant in the garden will leave you pleasantly reeking like your favorite Indian restaurant the rest of the day. The Great Curries of India is valuable book for learning to cook with Curries.
The taste of the small flowers has been likened to blue cheese. They are extremely potent so use only a very small amount.
Curry Plant leaves resemble those of Lavender which is also from the Mediterranean.
Curry Plant makes an interesting flower to add to our Edible Flower Herb Garden Six Pack or our Zone 8-11 Fragrant Herb Garden.
This plant is often available in plug trays. These trays hold 128 of all the same plant. They are a great low cost way to fill a lot of space. Each cell is 3/4 of inch by an inch. Check here to see if Curry Plug Trays are available.