Although intrigued by the colour and surface of the bracts surrounding the inflorescences of Porophyllum linaria, I did not manage to get a definitive photograph satisfying to me. Late seasonal rains helped fill the unused part of a pantéon (cemetery) with a chaotic assemblage of small plants in flower and fruit; while pleasing to walk through, there were no easy photographs.
Another regret is not knowing the foliage could be eaten. Members of Porophyllum, or the poreleaf genus, are described as “strongly pungent-scented” by the Jepson eFlora. While I enjoyed the fresh scent of Porophyllum linaria on my fingers from having handled it, tasting it would perhaps have been not as delightful for me. Its strong flavour is described as akin to fresh cilantro with overtones of lemon and anise. Given that cilantro tastes like soap to me (darn genes), I doubt I would have enjoyed it. However, many people do, and this species is used as a cooking herb. In Mexico, it is known as pepicha or pipicha. Leaves are used as an ingredient in soups, as a condiment, in salads and salsas, and with fish. I note that the author of this article also describes the taste as “cilantro times ten”! I would have tried it anyway.
Porophyllum linaria (synonym: Porophyllum tagetoides) is native to much of central and southern Mexico. It is also cultivated as a crop. Preferred growing conditions for this short-lived perennial or annual species include full sun and well-draining soil. Plants can grow to 60cm (2 ft.) in height within a month to 6 weeks under ideal conditions. In addition to the potent flavour that makes it a desirable herb, plants also readily regrow from cut stems ensuring long-season production. Where it grows as a native plant, habitats include grasslands, dry scrub areas, and woodland edges.