What is the difference between a spice and an herb?
Spices are flavorings, often of tropical origin, that are dried. Most spices
come from plant fruits, as is the case for mace, nutmeg, black pepper,
and cardamom. Cinnamon comes from the bark of a shrubby tree, and ginger
comes from the underground rhizome of a plant. Herbs, in the culinary sense,
are leaves of plants that can be used either fresh or dried to season food.
In the botanical sense, an herb is any plant that does not have woody perennial
stems like a tree or shrub.
What's the hottest pepper that I can grow?
In the National Herb Garden chile pepper collection, we grow peppers from five species groups: Capsicum annuum, Capsicum baccatum, Capsicum chinense, Capsicum frutescens, and Capsicum pubescens. Of these types, the C. chinense cultivars, such as 'Habanero', are generally the hottest with Scotch Bonnet, Thai, and Cayenne cultivars falling in behind.
Heat intensity of peppers is most commonly measured in Scoville Units, with Sweet Bell Peppers measuring in at zero Scoville Units. For comparison, Habanero peppers range from 100,000 - 300,000+ Scoville Units, while pure capsaicin--the chemical that causes the burning sensation--registers at a whopping 15,000,000 - 16,000,000 Scoville Units!
If you are looking to grow really hot peppers, try to pick those cultivars which register higher on the Scoville scale. Just remember that capsaicin does not dissolve in water, so make sure to keep milk or yogurt nearby to help quench the burn!
Do you grow cannabis in the National Herb Garden?
No. Although Cannabis sativa has a long history of use in medicine
and as a fiber and oilseed crop, it is not grown in the National Herb Garden
because it is a controlled substance.
Where can I buy the herbs displayed in the National Herb Garden?