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Batarinj Dragon's Head
Batarinj Dragon's Head
Batarinj Dragon's Head

Batarinj Dragon's Head

Regular price $4.00 Sale

Lallemantia spp.

Origin: Azerbaijan

Improvement status: Landrace

Seeds per packet: ~30

Germination: Botanical sample, not germination tested.

Life cycle: Annual

NEW. EFN INTRODUCTION. 'Batarinj' Dragon's Head is an annual mint-family herb from Azerbaijan in the Caucusus Mountains. It was brought to the United States by the late Steve Facciola, author of Cornucopia and Cornucopia 2 (two excellent sourcebooks on edible plants from around the world). We know that this species is in the Lallemantia genus, but we're not certain which species (possibilities include L. royleana, L. iberica, L. peltata, and L. canescens, which we believe is the most likely candidate). Steve recorded the name of this plant as "Batarinj," and that the leaves are eaten in salads. The flavor and aroma are very reminiscent of lemon-balm (Melissa), but the leaves are more delicate. The flowers are a pale blue-purple, though two plants in our 2020 grow-out row had pink flowers, so you can expect some diversity from this landrace variety. The flowers bloom over a long season and are incredibly attractive to bees and other pollinators. Both the flowers and the dried seed pods resemble a dragon's head, giving this genus its common name.

The species Lallemantia iberica has been cultivated since prehistoric times. It commonly bears the common name "Dragon's Head," and very much resembles this 'Batarinj,' except it usually has white flowers. The leaves and young growing tips are eaten in salads or as a cooked vegetable, and the seeds produce an edible oil (known generally as Lallemantia oil). The oil content of the seeds can be as high as 38%. It is also useful as a drying oil (like linseed oil) for wood varnish or leather conditioning. The seeds are also used medicinally, as a stimulant and diuretic. In Iran, the species Lallemantia royleana is used as a folk treatment for fever and coughs. A recent scientific study found that seed extracts exhibited significant antibacterial action. Seeds are also edible, and apparently good sources of fiber, oil, protein, and polysaccharides. Both of these species are called Balangu in Iran. Bronze Age archaeological sites in northern Greece have been found to contain stores of Lallemantia seeds, and archaeologists believe they were used mainly for oil for food, lighting, and medicine.

We'll keep working to figure out which species this plant is, but in the meantime we will definitely keep growing it for its beauty, its appeal to bees, and the fine fragrance and flavor of the leaves, which Nate very much enjoyed nibbling on out in the field in South Jersey.

GROWING TIPS: Grow as you would basil, starting either indoors or direct sow. Enjoys full sun and well-drained soil. Rabbits seem to like it, so make sure you have other plants around to keep them distracted!