A genus of about 30 species of annuals and perennials, native to warm parts of the Americas. Some species are very strong smelling, with an aroma similar to Coriandrum sativum (See, Coriander), for which they are used as substitutes. The presence of conspicuous oil glands on the leaves gives them the name Porophyllum, which means "poreleaf". The main species used is P. ruderale, which was first described by Linnaeus in 1753. It has two subspecies, ruderale and macrocephalum, that have slightly different but overlapping ranges in S and C America and Caribbean islands. The common name papaloquelite, is from papalotl, the Nahuatl word for butterfly, perhaps because the flowers attract butterflies. Another species, P. coloratum (broadleaf, hoja ancho) likewise has two subspecies, the annual coloratum and the perennial obtusifolium. It has rounder, more scalloped leaves and even larger oil glands but is otherwise similar in flavor. These substitutes for coriander or cilantro are much easier to grow in their homelands than C. sativum, which bolts quickly in hot climates. They are also much larger plants and therefore more productive.

Robust, annual or short-lived perennial with blue-green, glaucous, oval leaves, to 7cm (3in) long, which have scalloped margins and conspicuous oil glands. Bronze, green, or purple flower heads, about 2.5cm (1in) long, are produced over a long period on mature plants, followed by seed heads resembling those of dandelions.

Common Name:
Other Names:
Papalo, Papaloquelite
Botanical Name:
Porophyllum ruderale
Native Location:
S and C America and the Caribbean islands.
Well-drained soil in sun. Self-sows freely in suitable conditions.
By seed sown in spring at 21°C (70°F)
Leaves are picked as required and used fresh.
1.5-2m (5-6ft)
Parts Used:
A bitter, strongly aromatic herb with a cilantro-like flavor.
Culinary Uses:
Chopped leaves are added to salads, salsa, guacamole, and other Mexican dishes; also as a substitute for cilantro in any recipe.
Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited. Pp. 328-329