Herbal domino theory


couple of weeks back we accompanied my brother and his family to the farmers’ market up in Greenville. We were in the market for herbs, particularly cilantro, because of an excellent recipe for three-bean salad my eldest daughter makes. It calls for fresh cilantro, a.k.a. coriander.

But all they had was something very different looking called "Vietnamese cilantro." The vendors said this variety was particularly well suited to our climate. So OK; we bought some, and added it to several other little pots of herbs we had bought in recent days.

Having recently given up on a plant at my office that didn’t seem to respond well to watering only when I felt like it, I decided to stick several of these herbs in a pot (with my wife’s supervision, because what I don’t know about plants would fill a library) and take them to the office.

I’ve been quite attentive to this little herb garden, watering it constantly (the terra cotta soaks up a lot of it) and rearranging my office in order to keep it in the sun. And what has been the result?

The Vietnamese cilantro has taken over. Relentlessly. The other plants — Spicy Globe Basil, Greek oregano, and plain old sweet basil — have seen it coming and just curled up and died in its path, like so many dominoes. Only the tiniest sprigs of the oregano and sweet basil remain, and you can’t see them because the Vietnamese herb has grown to three or four times its original size.

I don’t know what it is. Maybe all that watering has created a rice-paddy-like environment. Maybe it’s my failure to keep significant numbers of ground troops in-country. In any case, I think it’s time to send in a tiny helicopter and get the oregano and basil out.


36 thoughts on “Herbal domino theory

  1. just saying

    I’m really hoping people who find this taking over their pots don’t just chuck it in the woods outside. Last thing this state needs is another southeast Asian plant to join the kudzu, sacred bamboo, Asian wisteria, and tree of heaven. (That last one in particular is now along almost every vaguely wooded area in the city, and spreads more every time its cut down.)

  2. slugger

    OK. So what are you saying here? What is the hidden message? I cannot believe you are interested in growing herbs to spice up your food and your life. Did you hear that it can take the place of Viagra? Grow all your medicinal needs at the window of your office? Are you asking if we are importing seeds to take over our countryside? Are you using herbs to tell a story of how importing herbs could be a comparison of importing people that do not fit the present mold of Americanization? How we can take the import and it will transform our country?
    Tell me what is your point by bringing this subject up except for purely food purposes?

  3. Karen McLeod

    I’ve got some oregano in my back yard that’s trying to take over the world. You wanna see who’s top, er herb? Just your Vietnamese cilantro and my oregano in a root-to-root, sprout-to-sprout fight to the death? Bring it on.

  4. Brad Warthen

    "Bring it on?" Whoa. Karen’s the George W. Bush of herb gardeners — no offense…

    That must be Italian oregano. The Greek variety lacked the national will to stand up to my Indochinese flora…

    Speaking of Indochina — if it were called Indochine cilantro (a la movie with Catherine Deneuve), would it be less aggressive? Would it have a tendency to surrender in the face of Teutonic vegetables?

  5. Reader

    Karen, pitting your plants against the MSM’s plants could be risky. Maureen Dowd once said something like — go ahead and picnic with the lions, but they will always eat last. She ought to know.

  6. Karen McLeod

    If you’re gonna call me ‘George’, make it Patton. My oregano surrenders to no one!

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