Chepiche/Pipicha : Porophyllum tagetoides

Porophyllum tagetoides (syn P.linaria, Kleinia tagetoides ): chepiche, chepito, pipicha, pipitza, pipitzcaquilitl (Nahuatl), tepicha, quelite oaxaqueño, escobeta, papalo delgado (thin papalo), Cole de coyote (coyote tail), yerba de la venado (so called because the plant exhales a stench similar to that which gives off the meat of the deer)(sic) (Hieronymus. G), nlí-dún (Zapotec) named after a stinging ant (ndún), one assumes because of its smell when crushed.

This herb is popular in Oaxaca and Southern Mexico. It is usually eaten raw, like papaloquelite, in tacos and tortas.

This herb is said to have the flavour profile of papalo but with overtones of lemon and anise and a sour citrus tang. Its aroma has been described as piney/minty and its flavour as pungent and grassy. In Oaxaca you know you are getting close to the market when you can detect the distinctive odour of this herb.

Resin glands on the leaves of P.tagetoides.
These are largely responsible for the scent and flavour of the plant.

Chepiche is considered more delicate than papalo and can be used to elevate the flavour of steamed fish. To substitute for pipicha in the kitchen use a blend of cilantro and mint, in equal parts, finely chopped together (yerbanis or dill can be added to give a note of anise). There is mention of this herb being used as a salad green.

In the Central valley of Oaxaca it is cooked in a dish called sopa de guias made with squash vines and other quelites. The squash used grows only in Oaxaca but a zucchini makes an acceptable substitute and any edible squash vines/tendrils can be used. The quelites used in this sopa are chepiche (Porophyllum tagetoides), piojito (Galinsoga parviflora) and chepil (Crotolaria longirostrata). These are local herbs and there are no real substitutes.

Porophylum tagetoides – Chepiche flower
Crotolaria longirostrata – Chepil
Galinsoga parviflora – Piojito
Guias de calabaza – Squash tendrils

Sopa de Guias

This is a typical spring time dish. It is often served with a small masa based dumpling called a chochoyote.


  • 10 cups water
  • 1 small head garlic, cut in half horizontally
  • 1 medium white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 corncobs, preferably field corn, not the sweet variety
  • 2 tender zucchini or green squash (or even chayote)
  • 8 large Guias de Calabaza (squash vine tendrils)
  • 1 small bunch Piojito (Galinsoga parviflora)
  • 1 large bunch Chepil (Crotolaria longirostrata)
  • 1 small bunch Pepicha (Porophyllum tagetioides)
  • 1 small bunch squash flowers
  • Salt to taste
  • 100g masa (fresh if you can get it or just use a reconstituted masa harina – preferably nixtamalised)
  • 30g lard (use butter if you’re vegetarian – or just squeamish about using lard)


Start the soup : Put the water into a large pot, add the garlic, onion, and salt, and bring to a boil, boiling for about 5 minutes. Prep Your corn :Remove the husks from the corn. Cut 1 of them into slices about 1-1/4 inches (3 cm) thick. Shave the kernels from the other cob.

  • Blend the corn kernels with about 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the cooking water, return to the pot with the corn slices, and continue cooking for 10 minutes or until the corn is tender.
  • Rinse and trim the squash and cut into strips or 3/4-inch (2-cm) cubes.

Prep the herbs :

  1. Rinse the guias well and shake dry. Remove the tendrils and any tough parts. Strip off the stringy outer part of the stems. Snap the stems into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces. If parts of the stem are tough, discard them. Leave the leaves attached.
  2. Rinse the piojitos well and shake dry. Discard the lower stems and tear into pieces.
  3. Rinse the chepil well and shake dry. Remove the rosettes of the leaves and discard the stems.
  4. Rinse the chepiche well and shake dry. Remove and discard the bare stems and tear the rest into small pieces.
  5. Remove all but 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the stems of the squash flowers. Strip off the stringy outside of the stems and the sepals. Leave the base of the flower and the pistils; they do not make the soup bitter. Coarsely chop the flowers.
  • Add the squash and guias to the pot and continue cooking for about 10 minutes.
  • Add the rest of the greens and squash flowers and cook for 10 more minutes or until all the vegetables are tender. Remember always to have the broth boiling when adding the greens to preserve the colour as much as possible.

Make your chochoyotes : Mix together the masa and lard with a pinch of salt. Make small balls of the dough (about the size of a quail egg maybe) and poke a small indent into them with your finger

If you are adding chochoyotes (1), they should go in just after the final herbs when the water comes up to a simmer again. If the water boils too hard, they will disintegrate.

  1. Chochoyotes are small dumplings (about 1 inch/2.5 cm in diameter)

Chef Daniel Ovadía at his restaurant Paxia in San Ángel Mexico City makes a pickled Yucatan octopus which has been smoked with fresh pipicha and is served with mashed peas, sweet pepper and chilhuacle chiles.

I have yet to meet with this herb.

Medicinal Use

Medicinal actions : anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antifungal, chemotherapeutic, diaphoretic, diuretic, depurative, sudorific

Pepicha was used medicinally by the Nahuatl people against bacterial infections and for liver cleansing and detox. Standley (1926) and Martinez (1944) both state that this plant is used for the treatment of malaria. This herb has been studied for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity (Jimenez etal) and it has been shown that a crude aqueous extract of the leaves has high radical scavenging activity and that an ethanol extract of the leaves (the stems were far less efficacious) showed a high polyphenol content and redox potential. This goes some way to suggest that there is indeed some medicinal benefit from eating soups containing this herb. Aldehydes and terpenes such as nonanal, decanal, trans-pinene, β-myrcene and D-limonene were the major volatiles found in this herb. This study (Jimenez etal) suggests that P.tagetoides extracts could be used as antioxidants. The infusion of this herb is taken in cases of colic and for venereal diseases; it also has diaphoretic (1) and antispasmodic virtues. (Hieronymus, G). Chiriani (2011) mentions that this herb has use as depurative (2) of the blood. He also mentions that because it is sudorific (1), it is used to lower the temperature during illnesses. In Puebla this herb has been used to treat dizziness and vertigo and to encourage the elimination of urine.

  1. Diaphoretic/Sudorific – induces sweating/perspiration.
  2. Depuratives are herbs that are considered to have purifying and detoxifying effects.

Phytol and linoleic acid were identified as major components of the oil extracted from this variety of slender pore leaf. Linoleic Acid is an essential fatty acid (1) that must be consumed for proper health and plays a special role in support of heart health. Randomized clinical trials have shown that replacing saturated fat with linoleic acid reduces total and LDL cholesterol. There is also some evidence that linoleic acid improves insulin sensitivity and blood pressure.(2) This particular oil has been looked at as a potent natural fungicide against 11 fungal strains that were isolated in stored wheat grains. The oil also demonstrated no inflammatory responses in human derived macrophages in vitro and so presents a possible substitution for synthetic chemical fungicides currently being used in wheat stored for human consumption. (Zadia, N Juarez etal). This is also very interesting from a medicinal point of view as linoleic acid through its conversion into arachidonic acid and its metabolites the eicosanoids (3) is known to have pro-inflammatory effects and a variety of this herb (P.macrocephalum) is used for the treatment of cardiac inflammation. (Regalado 2014)

  1. An Omega 6 fatty acid. Linoleic Acid must be obtained from the diet as the human body cannot synthesize it
  3. Eicosanoids are potent messengers that modulate neural cell function and are critical modulators of immune responses, pain, fever, inflammation, mitogenesis and apoptosis. The eicosanoids include the prostaglandins, prostacyclin, thromboxane, and leukotrienes.

P.tagetoides has been studied for its effects on diabetic nephropathy (1) (Vázquez-Cruz etal 2018). Fresh leaves of P. tagetoides were acquired in a market in Tlalnepantla de Baz, State of Mexico, Mexico. These leaves were then dried, powdered and extracted with 2 L of methanol for 24 h at room temperature. This extract was then filtered, concentrated under reduced pressure at 50° C in a rotary evaporator and then dissolved in propylene glycol (to be administered to the rats). The study found that a dose of 200 mg/kg, significantly decreased hyperglycaemia (as compared with the untreated diabetic rats). It decreased proteinuria (2), but did not prevent renal hypertrophy and did not improve creatinine clearance. It was found that treatment with P.tagetoides may exert a mild protective effect against renal damage development in diabetes.

  1. kidney damage that results from having diabetes
  2. the presence of abnormal quantities of protein in the urine, which may indicate damage to the kidneys.

An example of a “modern” herbal extraction of pipicha.

My only concern with this product is that neither the Latin name of the herb is given nor the alcohol content of the extraction is noted. These are both critical points as without the Latin name we cannot be 100% certain of which variety of pore leaf was used (1) and the alcohol content may indicate which phytochemicals were being extracted from the plant. The alcohol content of herbal tinctures may range from 25 to 90 percent. (2)

  1. Further investigation determined that P.linaria was used in this product. It is not listed on the label though and this is a critical omission.
  2. Mucilages don’t extract well in alcohol (water is best) but Marshmallow (a high mucilage plant) will be a low alcohol content (25%). Glycosides and tannins are extracted at between 60-80% alcohol, resins and essential oils at 80-95% alcohol content and alkaloids may vary between 25-90% alcohol.

The dosage of the above tincture is given as…

  • Begin with…..5 drops 2-3 x Day (with water, on an empty stomach or with very little food)
  • Take up to 30 drops 2-3 x Day

The use of herbal tinctures in this manner is known as microdosing. 5 drops is approximately the equivalent of one cup of fresh herb infusion. Typically several cups of herbal infusion (tea) would be taken over the course of a day whilst treating an illness.


  • de Athayde, A. E., de Araujo, C., Sandjo, L. P., & Biavatti, M. W. (2021). Metabolomic analysis among ten traditional “Arnica” (Asteraceae) from Brazil. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 265, 113149.
  • Jimenez, M., Guzman, A. P., Azuara, E., Garcia, O., Mendoza, M. R., & Beristain, C. I. (2012). Volatile compounds and antioxidative activity of Porophyllum tagetoides extracts. Plant foods for human nutrition (Dordrecht, Netherlands), 67(1), 57–63.
  • Juarez ZN, Hernandez LR, Bach H, Sanchez-Arreola E, Bach H. Antifungal activity of essential oils extracted from Agastache mexicana ssp.
  • Souza, M. C., Siani, A. C., Ramos, M. F., Menezes-de-Lima, O. J., & Henriques, M. G. (2003). Evaluation of anti-inflammatory activity of essential oils from two Asteraceae species. Die Pharmazie, 58(8), 582–586.
  • Vázquez-Cruz, B.;Segura-Cobos, D.;Serrano-Parrales R.; Amato (2018) EFFECT OF THE METHANOLIC EXTRACT OF POROPHYLLUM TAGETOIDES ON DIABETIC NEPHROPATHY : Facultad de Estudios Superiores Iztacala, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México ISSN: 1827-8620

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