Quelite : Anis de Chucho : Tagetes micrantha

This plant is often called Tagetes filifolia. They are similarly flavoured and can be used interchangeably both culinarily and medicinally.

Anís de chucho, anisillo (Central Mexico, San Luis Potosi, Durango, Chihuahua, Michoacan – more specifically Patzcuaro), anis de campo (Michoacan), anis de suelo (Guerrero), Tanix’ ch’ian (Motozintla, Chiapas), yuku anís (Mixtec), licorice marigold, Anise marigold (Southern Baja), putsut, putzuti (Lascurain-Rangel et al 2022)

Tagetes micrantha is a North American species of wild marigold (1). It is widespread across much of Mexico from Chihuahua to Oaxaca, and south into Guatemala and El Salvador. It can be found also in the southwestern United States (Arizona, New Mexico, Western Texas)

  1. this statement is often made for the “wild” marigold. It is kind of irrelevant as all wild marigolds originate from the Americas (Southwestern America, Mesoamerica, tropical America, and South America). The varieties known as French or African marigolds originated in the Americas and did not reach either country until well after Cortes’ incursion into the New World.

The leaf habit of this plant is reminiscent to me of one of the narrow leaved pore leafs (in this case Porophyllum linaria – Chepiche/Pipicha : Porophyllum tagetoides)

Heh heh. “Description of the photo for the visually impaired”

This plant, along with many others of this species, has both culinary and medicinal uses. The plants in this “anis complex” are all very well tolerated and safe to use.

Various known medicinal uses of the plant include….

Common name : Part used : Method of use : Condition/s treated


  • Anís – ramas (tender branches/stems) – infusion – diarrhoea, dolor de garganta (1), dolor de vientre (abdominal pain)
  • Anisillo – whole (aerial parts) plant – infusion – dolor de cabeza (headache)
  • Pericon – ramas – infusion used as a “bath” – susto
  • Micuán (Otomi) – not noted – infusion – vomiting (antiemetic)


  • Anís – whole (aerial parts) plant – infusion – dolor de pecho (chest pain) – local (?) compress/poultice?
  • Anisillo – ramitas (“twigs” = tender stems) – infusion – diarrhoea, dolor de estómago (stomach pain)


  • Anís de campo – whole (aerial parts) plant – infusion – dolor de estómago

Vera Cruz

  • Anisillo – ramitas – infusion – dolor de estómago


  • Hierbanís – whole (aerial parts) plant – infusion – calmar los nervios (calm the nerves)


  • Anís de suelo – ramas – infusion – dolor de estómago, colicos


  • Anís de chucho – ramas – infusion – dolor de estómago
  1. Pain or irritation in the throat that can occur with or without swallowing, often accompanies infections, such as a cold or flu

Other texts note that an infusion is used to reduce fevers (Martinez 1969) and that the Tarahumara of Chihuahua use the plant (or one likely identified as this plant) as an intestinal astringent and as a treatment for the common cold (Irigoyen 1974). An infusion (tea) of “hierba anis” has been reported as being very effective against, dangerous inflammatory fevers (Pfefferkorn, 1949). The plant has also been used to treat “empacho” (intestinal blockage) and “dolor de vientre precedido de frio” (gastrointestinal pain caused by cold) (Nentuig, 1977).

The plant is considered to be “caliente” in nature

This herb can also be successfully dried and stored for later use. Others in this species are more delicate and will lose potency when dried.

Govers (2006) notes that the Totonac peoples (1) use this plant medicinally. It is used for gas in the stomach (a type of empacho) and for uncomfortable delivery (during childbirth). The treatment (for both consists of gently massaging the belly with a liniment made from mescal (mezcal) (2), oil (type not noted), anis de campo, sherry and honey in refino (pure cane sugar alcohol).

  1. The Totonac are an indigenous people of Mexico who reside in the states of Veracruz, Puebla, and Hidalgo
  2. Mezcal is also used in the Mixtec culture, through rubs, in common ailments and conditions such as blows, coughs, pregnancy and fever. They say that for some stomach ailments it is useful to take it in moderation, since mezcal is an excellent digestive that is considered to promote the growth of intestinal flora and the absorption of lipids; likewise, it helps regulate cholesterol, burn fat and have good circulatory functions; it also optimizes cardiac functions and favours the absorption of calcium. (Méndez Hernández 2009). The curandero will also use mezcal when treating conditions not readily accepted by mainstream medicine. These include mal de ojo, susto (and its more serious incarnation espanto) and the digestive condition/s called empacho.

The Maya Ch’ortí people also use this plant medicinally.

The Maya Ch’ortí people also use this plant medicinally. It is a common household medical plant and is a valuable tool/medicine used by curanderos. Medicinally it is used to treat…. contra ojo (against “the eye”)(1)  empacho (various intestinal complaints (2), dolor de estómagos, dolor de oído (ear ache), contra la fiebre (against fever – febrifuge), disentería (dysentery), diarrea, pulmonía (pneumonia) bronquitis (bronchitis), inflamaciones (as an anti-inflammatory), dolor de vientre de la mujer (belly pain in women – PMS), mal olor en la vagina de la mujer (bad odour coming from a womans vagina – used as a douche possibly? The use was not specifically noted), resfriados de la mujer en tiempo de partos (3), contra sangrados de raíz (dysmennorhea/menstrual irregularities), preñes.

  1. The “eye” being referred to here is mal de ojo or the “evil eye”. This is an illness caused by an intense gaze visited upon you by another. It can be caused by envy, bad wishes or negative energy (it can manifest in babies and small children by the over attention by those gazing upon them – in this case it is negated by touching the child). The evil eye can be caused unconsciously, from coveting what one does not have (envidia). It can manifest as a strong pain in the head or the felling of needing to vomit. It is usually essential to invoke the power of the saints, the Virgin, Jesus Christ and the Trinity to help release the victim from the hold of the gaze of mal de ojo. It is in this case a type of exorcism that conjures up evil and expels it from the body.
  2. For more detail on empacho see Posts Empacho, Glossary of Terms used in Herbal Medicine., and What is Curanderismo?
  3. women’s colds at the time of childbirth

The soft leaves (and/or twigs) (ramas/ramitas), together with the stems are used primarily in the form of an infusion as the main treatment.

  • As an agua fresca – grind the leaves and stems and soak in cool (freshly boiled) water. Strain and drink
  • As an infusion – steep the fresh or dried herb in freshly boiled (still hot) water for 10 – 15 minutes.
  • As a poultice (1) – crush the leaves and stems and moisten with a little clean water. Wrap this herbal mass with gauze and apply to the affected area. Hold in place with a bandage.
  1. The word used en espanol was “cataplasm”. A cataplasm is a type of medical dressing consisting of a soft heated mass that is spread on a cloth and applied to the skin to treat inflamed areas or improve circulation.

Dosages (as given by the Chʼortiʼ curanderas)

(for the infusion or agua fresca)

  • for newborn children, drops are administered in the mouth every three meal times for three days,
  • for children under 1-5 years 3 teaspoons at each meal time for three days,
  • for children from 6 to 15 years old will take half a glass at each meal time for three days,
  • for adults a glass or a cup every three hours for three days.

The Chʼortiʼ people (also Chʼortiʼ Maya or Chorti) are an indigenous highland Maya people, who primarily reside in communities and towns of southeastern Guatemala, northwestern Honduras, and northern El Salvador. The overwhelming majority of the Ch’orti’ (52,000), live in the Chiquimula Department of Guatemala. The remaining 4,000 or so live in Honduras and El Salvador. They are descendants of the people who inhabited the capital of the ancient Maya empire of Copán in Honduras.

In Chiapas UNAM (1) in their Biblioteca Digital de la Medicina Tradicional Mexicana as part of the Flora Medicinal Indígena de México program it notes the dosing of the plant thusly…

  • To soothe stomach pain and colic caused by fermentation of food in poor digestion or in newborn children (this is empacho): prepare the decoction of two twigs for half a litre (500ml) of water.
  • To soften a cough due to cold: prepare a tea from two twigs and two or three eucalyptus leaves.
  1. UNAM – Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México – National Autonomous University of Mexico

This quelite has been listed by Díaz-Betancourt (etal 1999) as one of the “Weeds as a source for human consumption” as used by the people of Coatepec (the “hill of snakes” – Coatl “serpent” and tepec/tepetl “hill/mountain”) in the Mexican state of Veracruz. This is much the case with quelites, a variety of (generally speaking) wild plants that are valued for a myriad of uses. See my Post Quelites : Quilitl for further information on this class of plants.

Culinary use.

Lascurain-Rangel (et al 2022) notes in a paper written on American plants used as condiments in Mexican cuisine that T.micrantha is used to flavour bebidas (drinks – type not noted) in the areas of Michoacán, Tlaxcala, Ciudad de México, Oaxaca, Puebla

An interesting recipe that makes use of anisillo is the slightly unusual atole, atole de grano (it’s unusual in that its a chunky rather than smooth atole). Check it out here…….Atole de Grano

Atole de Grano

(recipe slightly adapted from Cristina Potters Mexico Cooks Blog – see link in Website references below))


  • 2 fresh ears of tender young corn
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob
  • 1 bunch wild anisillo
  • 3 litres water
  • 2 poblano chiles (See NOTES)
  • 250g (1/2lb) fresh corn masa (you can use reconstituted masa harina if you don’t have access to fresh masa)
  • Salt to taste


  • 1/2 medium white onion, minced
  • Chile serrano or chile perón, minced
  • limóns (limes), quartered
  • Sea salt


  1. Clean the ears of corn, remove the silk and cut off the ends. Cut each ear into three pieces.
  2. Boil the corn on the cob AND the corn kernels in enough water, for an hour and a half or until the corn is tender.
  3. Remove the stems, seeds and veins of the chiles
  4. In the blender, liquify the chiles, the anisillo, and the masa with two cups of water. Strain and add to the pot where the corn on the cob is cooking.
  5. Allow to boil gently for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the liquid is slightly thickened.

To serve

  1. Place sections of the cooked corn ears into bowls.
  2. Ladle your atole and corn kernels into the bowls.
  3. Serve with the finely diced onion, minced chile to taste, sea salt, and your limóns


The original recipe called for chiles perón which I otherwise know as chiles manzano. Poblano chiles were suggested as a substitute. Most other recipes I have found use either the poblano or a combination of poblano and jalapeno (added depending on your heat preference)

Chiles poblanos (top left) and perón (bottom right). This is just for comparisons sake (chiles are not actual size)


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Photo Credits

  • Tagetes micrantha – Dayan Romero : httpswww.inaturalist.orgphotos27913009, CC BY 4.0, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=97111896
  • Tagetes filifolia – Dayan Romero : httpswww.inaturalist.orgphotos27913009, CC BY 4.0, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=97111896


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