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Porophyllum ruderale

Origin: Bolivia

Improvement status: Cultivated material

Seeds per packet: ~25

Germination tested 11/2021: 65%

Lifecycle: Annual

Quillquiña (pronounced kwee-KEEN-yuh), also known as Bolivian coriander, killi, yerba porosa, mampuritu, quirquiña, quilquiña, or tepegua, is incredibly popular in much of the Andes, but still barely known in this country despite being very easy to grow here. It is a main ingredient in the popular Bolivian hot sauce called llajwa, made from a base of tomatoes and locoto peppers (the black-seeded Capsicum pubescens, often available Latin American markets here under the name manzano pepper — its Mexican name — so-called due to the fruit's apple shape). It is also said to aid digestion, lower cholesterol, and reduce high blood pressure. Quillquiña has a strong scent and flavor, reminiscent of cilantro/coriander, rue (Ruta graveolens), and arugula, but still quite unique. The name translates to "buzzard's breath", but don't let that put you off! In Bolivia, it is said to be included in flower arrangements on restaurant tables so diners can pluck a few leaves and add them to their dishes as they like. A very close relative (with rounder leaves and green stems instead of purple) is the Mexican herb pápalo or pápaloquelite, commonly used as a seasoning in dishes like fish tacos, salsa, or guacamole. The flavor is said to be best in the new leaves, so frequent pruning is advisable.

Unlike cilantro — which is known to bolt after just a few weeks — one quillquiña plant will grow up to 4 to 6 feet tall in a season, remains tasty long after it starts flowering, and seems quite pest resistant and resilient. We generally grow it unirrigated, and during one extended drought all of the plants shriveled up to the point of near death, but bounced back after one big rain. The slender blue-green leaves, lined with purple, and the purple stems are strikingly beautiful, along with the dandelion-like seeds, which must be collected every day or two, or else they may blow away. The flowers, which are quite inconspicious, resemble a marigold flower after flowering, like a flower bud with a little dark fringe at the top, though bees seem to love it nevertheless, which is great because it continues flowering right up to a hard frost. Be the first on your block to grow this exciting herb! Seeds grown ecologically in Elmer, NJ, by EFN.