French Tarragon

From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

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(New page: '''Common Name:''' French Tarragon<ref>This section is based on Peggy Cornett, CHP Information Sheet.</ref> '''Scientific Name:''' ''Artemisia dracunculus sativa'' '''Description:''' ...)
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-'''Common Name:''' French Tarragon<ref>This section is based on Peggy Cornett, CHP Information Sheet.</ref>+[[Image:frenchtarragon.jpg|thumb|right|French Tarragon]]
 + 
 +'''Common Name:''' French Tarragon<ref>This section is based on a Center for Historic Plants Information Sheet and Peter Hatch, "Herbs," Monticello Research Report, 2-3.</ref>
'''Scientific Name:''' ''Artemisia dracunculus sativa'' '''Scientific Name:''' ''Artemisia dracunculus sativa''
-'''Description:''' Hardy perennial herb; Grown for edible, aromatic foliage+[[Thomas Jefferson|Thomas Jefferson]] first encounted tarragon while in Paris. When he returned to the U.S., he found it hard to find. He made several inquiries to locate seeds, but seeds were scarce since plants used for cooking and vinegar rarely made seeds. People propagated it from cuttings and root division.<ref>Alice M. Coates, [http://tjportal.monticello.org/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?BBID=382 ''Flowers and their Histories''] (London: Black, 1968), 280.</ref> In 1806, [[Philadelphia]] nurseryman [[Bernard McMahon]] sent a shipment of roots on April 30th.<ref>[[Short Title List|Betts, ''Garden Book'']], 318.</ref> He also requested roots from McMahon in 1809, as well.
-'''Size:''' Forms a clump to 2 feet tall and with a similar width+He planted it in the bed at the Northwest border on April 12th, but they "failed."<ref>Ibid, 388.[http://www.thomasjeffersonpapers.org/cfm/doc.cfm?id=garden_35&numrecs=4&archive=garden&hi=on&mode=&query=tarragon&queryid=&rec=1&noimages=&start=1&tag=text&user= Manuscript and transcription] at the Massachusetts Historical Society.</ref> In 1812, he transplanted it in Square XVII of the garden.<ref>Ibid, 470.</ref> He also documented the planting of tarragon in 1813<ref>Ibid, 500. [http://www.thomasjeffersonpapers.org/cfm/doc.cfm?id=garden_53&numrecs=4&archive=garden&hi=on&mode=&query=tarragon&queryid=&rec=3&noimages=&start=1&tag=text&user= Manuscript and transcription] at the Massachusetts Historical Society</ref> and in 1814.<ref>Ibid, 522. [http://www.thomasjeffersonpapers.org/cfm/doc.cfm?id=garden_54&numrecs=4&archive=garden&hi=on&mode=&query=tarragon&queryid=&rec=4&noimages=&start=1&tag=text&user= Manuscript and transcription] at the Massachusetts Historical Society.</ref>
-'''Cultural Information:''' Prefers full sun and well-drained, moderately rich soil+The species ''Artemisia dracunculus'' was in English gardens since the sixteenth century and in American gardens before the Revolution.<ref>Coates, 277.</ref>
-'''USDA Zones:''' 3 through 7+French Tarragon is a hardy perennial herb with edible, aromatic foliage. Its popularity with Jefferson most likely comes from the fact that this herb is essential in French cuisine like Bearnaise sauce, vinegars, and in fish and chicken dishes. An example of this popularity is Jefferson's vinaigre d'estragon where three pints of vinegar was added to one quart of partially dried tarragon leaves. After one week, it was strained, bottled, and corked.<ref>Hatch, 4.</ref>
- +
-'''Historical Notes:''' French Tarragon was [[Thomas Jefferson|Thomas Jefferson's]] favorite herb. He made several inquiries to locate it in 1806, and was sent a shipment of roots by [[Philadelphia]] nurseryman [[Bernard McMahon]] on April 30th of that year.<ref>[[Short Title List|Betts, ''Garden Book'']], 318.</ref> The species ''Artemisia dracunculus'' was in American gardens before the Revolution. While this may have been the inferior Russian Tarragon, which has no culinary use, the type sold here is the selected, sterile clone so essential in French cuisine. It is used in Bearnaise sauce, vinegars, and in fish and chicken dishes. Like other wormwoods, French Tarragon has a stimulating effect on the whole digestive system. +
==Primary Source References<ref>Please note that this list should not be considered comprehensive.</ref>== ==Primary Source References<ref>Please note that this list should not be considered comprehensive.</ref>==
-'''1806 April 25.''' (Jefferson to [[Bernard McMahon]]). "TH:J has been many years endeavoring to get some seed of the Tarragon, but without success."<ref>Ibid, 313. [http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mtj1&fileName=mtj1page035.db&recNum=1157 Polygraph Copy] at the Library of Congress.</ref>+'''1793 March 10.''' (Jefferson to J.P.P. Derieux). "The estragon (called in English Tarragon) is little known in America."<ref>[[Short Title List|''PTJ:'']], 25:347.</ref>
 + 
 +'''1805 October 12.''' (Jefferson to J.P. Reibelt). "there is a garden plant in France which I have never been able to get, the Estragon. perhaps Mr. Labullage could furnish me a little of the seed."<ref>[[Short Title List|Betts, ''Garden Book'']], 305.</ref>
 + 
 +'''1806 April 25.''' (Jefferson to Bernard McMahon). "TH:J has been many years endeavoring to get some seed of the Tarragon, but without success."<ref>[[Short Title List|Betts, ''Garden Book'']], 313. [http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mtj1&fileName=mtj1page035.db&recNum=1157 Polygraph Copy] at the Library of Congress.</ref>
 + 
 +'''1806 April 30.''' (Bernard McMahon to Jefferson). "It gives me much pleasure to have it in my power to send you a few roots of the Artemisia Dracunculus, or Tarragon, these I forwarded by yesterday's mail and hope you will receive them in good condition; they propogate very freely and abundantly by the roots, and are perfectly hardy, requiring no additional care or protection in winter."<ref>Ibid, 318.</ref>
 + 
 +'''1806 July 12.''' (Bernard McMahon to Jefferson). "I am desirous to know if the Tarragon plants have succeeded, as, if necessary, I will send you a further supply."<ref>Ibid, 322. [http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mtj1&fileName=mtj1page036.db&recNum=447 Copy] at the Library of Congress.</ref>
 + 
 +'''1807 December 22.''' (Jefferson to J.P. Reibelt). "Your favor of Oct. 25 with the seed of the wild Estrangon came to hand last night for which I now return you my thanks."<ref>Ibid, 356.</ref>
 + 
 +'''1809 January 17.''' (Bernard McMahon to Jefferson). "I wish to know if the Tattagon roots I sent you have succeeded as I can send you a supply in due time this season if they failed."<ref>Ibid, 402. [http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mtj1&fileName=mtj1page043.db&recNum=287 Copy] at the Library of Congress.</ref>
-'''1806 July 12.''' ([[Bernard McMahon]] to Jefferson). "I am desirous to know of the Tarragon plants have succeeded, as if necessary, I will send you a further supply."<ref>Ibid, 322. [http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mtj1&fileName=mtj1page036.db&recNum=447 Copy] at the Library of Congress.</ref>+'''1809 October 11.''' (Jefferson to William Thornton). "the tarragon you were so kind as to send me is now growing with the former bunch..."<ref>[[Short Title List|''PTJ:RS'']], 1:600.</ref>
-'''1809 January 17.''' ([[Bernard McMahon]] to Jefferson). "I wish to know if the Rattagon roots I sent you have succeeded as I can send you a supply in due time this season if they failed."<ref>Ibid, 402. [http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mtj1&fileName=mtj1page043.db&recNum=287 Copy] at the Library of Congress.</ref>+'''1812 June 1.''' (Jefferson to J. Peter Derieux). "Your favor of May st is just received, with the seed & root of the Tarragon, for which I return my thanks. the root had become entirley dry and without any principle of vegetation left in it. this was less important, as I had some years ago succeeded in obtaining the plant from N. Orleans where it grows wild."<ref>[[Short Title List|Betts, ''Garden Book'']], 488. Peter Hatch notes that French Tarragon does not do well in high heat and humidity, but the Russian variety does. Hatch, 3.</ref>
==Footnotes== ==Footnotes==
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==Further Sources== ==Further Sources==
*[http://www.thomasjeffersonpapers.org/cfm/search.cfm?start=1&hi=on&user=&tag=text&archive=garden&noimages=&query=Tarragon&submit=Search Look for more of Jefferson’s references in his Garden Book] *[http://www.thomasjeffersonpapers.org/cfm/search.cfm?start=1&hi=on&user=&tag=text&archive=garden&noimages=&query=Tarragon&submit=Search Look for more of Jefferson’s references in his Garden Book]
-*McMahon, Bernard. [http://tjportal.monticello.org/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?BBID=5466 ''The American Gardener’s Calendar, 1806''] (Charlottesville: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 1997), 11, 198, and 511.+*McMahon, Bernard. [http://tjportal.monticello.org/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?BBID=5466 ''The American Gardener’s Calendar, 1806''] (Charlottesville: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 1997). See pp. 11, 198, and 511
*[http://www.monticello.org/chp/index.html Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants] *[http://www.monticello.org/chp/index.html Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants]
-[[Category:Herbs]]+[[Category:Herbs|Tarragon, French]]
 +[[Category:Jefferson-Documented Plants|Tarragon, French]]

Current revision

French Tarragon
French Tarragon

Common Name: French Tarragon[1]

Scientific Name: Artemisia dracunculus sativa

Thomas Jefferson first encounted tarragon while in Paris. When he returned to the U.S., he found it hard to find. He made several inquiries to locate seeds, but seeds were scarce since plants used for cooking and vinegar rarely made seeds. People propagated it from cuttings and root division.[2] In 1806, Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon sent a shipment of roots on April 30th.[3] He also requested roots from McMahon in 1809, as well.

He planted it in the bed at the Northwest border on April 12th, but they "failed."[4] In 1812, he transplanted it in Square XVII of the garden.[5] He also documented the planting of tarragon in 1813[6] and in 1814.[7]

The species Artemisia dracunculus was in English gardens since the sixteenth century and in American gardens before the Revolution.[8]

French Tarragon is a hardy perennial herb with edible, aromatic foliage. Its popularity with Jefferson most likely comes from the fact that this herb is essential in French cuisine like Bearnaise sauce, vinegars, and in fish and chicken dishes. An example of this popularity is Jefferson's vinaigre d'estragon where three pints of vinegar was added to one quart of partially dried tarragon leaves. After one week, it was strained, bottled, and corked.[9]

Primary Source References[10]

1793 March 10. (Jefferson to J.P.P. Derieux). "The estragon (called in English Tarragon) is little known in America."[11]

1805 October 12. (Jefferson to J.P. Reibelt). "there is a garden plant in France which I have never been able to get, the Estragon. perhaps Mr. Labullage could furnish me a little of the seed."[12]

1806 April 25. (Jefferson to Bernard McMahon). "TH:J has been many years endeavoring to get some seed of the Tarragon, but without success."[13]

1806 April 30. (Bernard McMahon to Jefferson). "It gives me much pleasure to have it in my power to send you a few roots of the Artemisia Dracunculus, or Tarragon, these I forwarded by yesterday's mail and hope you will receive them in good condition; they propogate very freely and abundantly by the roots, and are perfectly hardy, requiring no additional care or protection in winter."[14]

1806 July 12. (Bernard McMahon to Jefferson). "I am desirous to know if the Tarragon plants have succeeded, as, if necessary, I will send you a further supply."[15]

1807 December 22. (Jefferson to J.P. Reibelt). "Your favor of Oct. 25 with the seed of the wild Estrangon came to hand last night for which I now return you my thanks."[16]

1809 January 17. (Bernard McMahon to Jefferson). "I wish to know if the Tattagon roots I sent you have succeeded as I can send you a supply in due time this season if they failed."[17]

1809 October 11. (Jefferson to William Thornton). "the tarragon you were so kind as to send me is now growing with the former bunch..."[18]

1812 June 1. (Jefferson to J. Peter Derieux). "Your favor of May st is just received, with the seed & root of the Tarragon, for which I return my thanks. the root had become entirley dry and without any principle of vegetation left in it. this was less important, as I had some years ago succeeded in obtaining the plant from N. Orleans where it grows wild."[19]

Footnotes

  1. This section is based on a Center for Historic Plants Information Sheet and Peter Hatch, "Herbs," Monticello Research Report, 2-3.
  2. Alice M. Coates, Flowers and their Histories (London: Black, 1968), 280.
  3. Betts, Garden Book, 318.
  4. Ibid, 388.Manuscript and transcription at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
  5. Ibid, 470.
  6. Ibid, 500. Manuscript and transcription at the Massachusetts Historical Society
  7. Ibid, 522. Manuscript and transcription at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
  8. Coates, 277.
  9. Hatch, 4.
  10. Please note that this list should not be considered comprehensive.
  11. PTJ:, 25:347.
  12. Betts, Garden Book, 305.
  13. Betts, Garden Book, 313. Polygraph Copy at the Library of Congress.
  14. Ibid, 318.
  15. Ibid, 322. Copy at the Library of Congress.
  16. Ibid, 356.
  17. Ibid, 402. Copy at the Library of Congress.
  18. PTJ:RS, 1:600.
  19. Betts, Garden Book, 488. Peter Hatch notes that French Tarragon does not do well in high heat and humidity, but the Russian variety does. Hatch, 3.

Further Sources