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Friday - January 21, 2011

From: Elkhart, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Edible Plants
Title: Culture of Polytaenia nuttallii, Prairie Parsley
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Polytaenia nuttallii is listed at the Wildflower Center as a biennial. PLANTS database lists it as a perennial. Please clear this up if you can. If I plant this at home with tomato plants will it do well? Can the seed be used in dill seed recipes? I have purchased seed from Native American Seed.

ANSWER:

Polytaenia nuttallii (Nuttall's prairie parsley) is sometimes listed as a biennial because it forms vegetative but not reproductive tissues the first year.  Several authorities, e.g., The USDA, state that it can flower not only the second year but during subsequent years, and therefore should be considered a perennial.

Polytaenia nuttallii thrives in well-drained, loamy soil, and is often found in rocky, limestone locations. I do not find any indication that it produces allelopathic substances that might inhibit tomato plants, so the two species should coexist well. It sometimes hosts the caterpillars of swallowtail butterflies.  Under some conditions Polytaenia nuttallii might become invasive, but it should be easily controlled in your garden.

Most of the authoritative references on Polytaenia nuttallii do not mention the use of its seeds as a substitute for dill.  However, some online posts have mentioned that it can be substituted for dill.  It is worth a try, but I expect it would not be a good substitute.  I might mention that American Indians have been reported to use a decoction of Polytaenia nuttallii seeds to treat diarrhea.

 

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