This highly fragrant herb from Mediterranean Europe and central Asia and was naturalized in many parts of North and South America since the mid nineteenth century. The leaves and roots of this plant have been used in cough medicines and for flavoring candy since Egyptian times. In John Gerard's s Herball of 1663, it is described as of a "hoarie colour, [and] of a most pleasant strong smell." The generic name is possibly derived from the Hebrew marros, "bitter juice," as it is thought to be one of the five bitter herbs that the Jews ate at Passover. In 1863 Fearing Burr described the taste as "bitter, penetrating, and durable." It's small whitish flowers appear in mid summer.
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