Pagès uses Verbena in many of its creations. Its slightly lemony notes and its many virtues make it an ideal plant to drink as an infusion.
Verbena, a plant native to South America, is appreciated by many civilizations, and particularly by the inhabitants of the Haute-Loire French region...
Origins of verbena
We often talk about Verbena officinalis, it was introduced in France at the end of the 18th century.
Verbena officinalis was one of the sacred plants of Gaul. Its name comes from the Celtic word "ferfaen" meaning "sacred branch", "magic wand" or "witchcraft and enchantment herb". Before the sacrifices, it is said that the Druids used Verbena to clean the altars. The bards used them to sing, the plant having visibly beneficial virtues on the voice, and to make wreaths that they wore on their heads on special occasions or when they had committed memorable acts. The ovates used Verbena to chase away evil spirits. To do this, they sprayed their house with lustral water in which they dipped a branch of Verbena. As they attributed divinatory properties to it, they also drank its infusion before predicting the future or casting spells.
In short, Verbena represented for them "the grass of all ills", "the grass of wonder" or "erbo de la merbelo" as we can currently hear in Provence. The Roman pharmacopoeia was enriched by this Gallic panacea. It is said that they used it to make love filters! Its aromatic and sweetly lemony scent was considered seductive and capable of bewitching the heart of the desired person.
The inhabitants of Velay were passionate about fragrant Verbena, to the point of making it their emblem. Indeed, Verbena is of great importance to us Altiligerians today. Many inhabitants of the Haute-Loire region cultivate the plant and then use it to make their own infusions and Verbena liqueurs. It is in Le Puy-en-Velay, the city in which the company Pagès has been established for 160 years now, that they started to distil Verbena alcohol to sell it. This drink was an immediate success and still represents one of the specificities of Haute-Loire today.
Characteristics of verbena
Name: Verbena officinalis
Species: Perennial plant
Verbena is a perennial plant from 40 to 80 cm high. It is found in Europe, Asia, North Africa and South America. If it also grows in our French countryside, Verbena flourishes more in Latin America. Indeed, it appreciates the hot and humid climates, mainly located above 2000 meters of altitude. It is a plant that does not tolerate frost, so it has, contrary to what one might think of, difficulty in growing abundantly in France.
Its upright branched stem has deeply cut opposite leaves, and small lilac-coloured flowers joined into long filiform ears. Verbena is not an aromatic plant. The plant contains tannins, mucilage, iridoids and heterosides.
Uses of verbena
Verbena is best known for its consumption as an infusion. This is the case with Verbena officinalis. Scented Verbena, although found in some herbal teas, has a greater place in the culinary arts. Indeed, the Citral present in the essential oil of Verbena delivers a naturally lemony scent to the plant. This one easily explains its success in cuisine. Verbena leaves, fresh or dry, are ideal for sweet and savoury dishes. Adding a few leaves of Verbena to a fruit salad can bring an original and very surprising taste to the dish. It is also very good for exotic dishes, sauces, fish, poultry, marinades and ice creams.
Verbena officinalis also finds its place in the production of essential oils and cosmetics.
For external use, Verbena water can be used on compresses to be applied to sensitive areas of the body. It is also said to be used to cleanse the face, moisturize the skin and treat tightness.
Benefits of verbena
A great classic of herbal medicine, Verbena is used to soothe tensions and facilitate digestion. We say it is both apéritive and digestive,
It can also help to reduce the appearance of little skin issues.