Stevia rebaudiana – Commonly referred to as Sugar Plant or Sweet Leaf, this South American native has been used as a natural sweetener for over a century now. The leaves are 10-15 times sweeter than sugar – both the foliage and stems are dried for use in teas and baking as a sugar substitute. It bears small clusters of white flowers. Grows 24-36″ high and wide. Zone 9.
Myrrhis odorata – Sweet Cicely is both a beautiful perennial plant and a herb that can be grown in part or open shade. The bright green fern-like foliage and young shoots are anise-flavoured and add sweetness when cooked with fruit. It is also one of the main ingredients of ‘Bouquet Garni’. Bears umbels of white flowers in early summer. Grows 3-5′ high and wide. Hardy to zone 3.
Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’ – Bronze Fennel is another dual ornamental perennial and herb with feathery (almost fern-like) new growth of coppery-bronze. Both the seeds and foliage are licorice or anise-flavoured and this plant is a favourite of Swallowtail butterflies. Tiny yellow flowers are borne in umbels from July to August. Grows 3-5′ high by 2′ wide. Zone 5.
Origanum majorana (syn. Majorana hortensis) – Sweet Marjoram is perennial in its native Mediterranean region but is grown as a tender annual in coastal BC. The leaves (fresh or dried) are essential for flavouring pasta sauces, stews and soups (especially potato) and it is used for making herbal teas. White to pale pink summer flowers. Grows 24″ high by 18″ wide. Z9.
Trigonella foenum-graecum – Fenugreek has been used medicinally since ancient times and the ground seeds are a component of better curry powders and mango chutney. The tri-lobed leaves are also cooked as a pot herb and are an important flavouring in Persian dishes. It produces small creamy-white flowers. Grows 24″ high by 16″ wide. Annual.