Photo courtesy of Kzysztof Ziarnek Kenraiz
Widely cultivated in Mexico and Guatemala for its nutritious seeds, which can be soaked in fruit juices and consumed as a cooling drink or mixed with milk for a self-thickening pudding. The sprouted seeds are popular additions to salads and sandwiches. Reaching 1-2’ wide and 3-6’ tall, it features lightly textured, oval to elliptic leaves on sturdy stalks topped by clusters of 2-lipped lavender flowers. Best grown in regions with early Springs and mild Falls (zones 8 and up) so the seed has time to mature. Elsewhere it can be grown for the leaves, which can be used to make tea. Collect seed pods BEFORE they turn brown and dry them fully in a well-ventilated space. Crush the pods to release the seeds, then separate out the chaff. Even if you don’t harvest the seed, this is a lovely addition to any sunny bed. Hummingbirds will love the flowers, as will bees. Plant in fertile, well-drained soil. Grown as an annual, but may over-Winter in frost-free zones. Deer resistant.