green plants that do not have any wood
in their stems and that are valued for their
medicinal value, flavor, and/or scent
Herbs grow in a variety of
ways. Some, like dandelions, are low-growing;
they never get far above the ground. Others, like
sunflowers, grow to be several feet tall. Still
others are vines. The stems of herbs have a great
deal of water in them, which makes them firm and
usually able to stand erect. Because their stems
have so much water in them, they freeze when cold
weather comes. But, although the stems may die
down to the ground in the winter, some herbs are
able to live on year after year. They may live on
underground and send up new stems and leaves in
the spring. Some of these herbs have underground
stems that stay alive during cold weather; some
have big roots; some have bulbs.
Herb plants grow well with
little care. In fact, many herbs, such as
dandelions, are considered weeds when not grown
intentionally. And, because many herbs require
little space in which to grow, they are easily
grown in window boxes and windowsill gardens.
Some herbs are used in cooking,
to flavor foods. Others give scents to perfumes.
Still others are used for medicines. Some herbs,
like balm and sage, are valued for their leaves.
Saffron is picked for its buds and flowers.
Fennel seeds are valuable in relishes and
seasoning. Vanilla fruit pods yield vanilla
flavoring. Several drugs are made from the juice
of the opium poppy. Gentian roots serve as a
flavoring in beverages and as a stomach medicine.
Ginseng is valued for its aromatic roots, which
are used as a cure for several ailments.
Although herbs have little food
value, they make food tasty and more flavorful.
Therefore, cooking with herbs has become a
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