Helichrysum italicum or Helichrysum angustifolium is a flowering plant of the daisy family Asteraceae. It is sometimes called the curry plant because of the strong smell of its leaves. It grows on dry, rocky or sandy ground around the Mediterranean. The stems are woody at the base and can reach 60 cm or more in height. The clusters of yellow flowers are produced in Summer, they retain their color after picking and are used in dried flower arrangements
What to look for:
If it’s the little Grey-leafed shrub that looks rather like rosemary. The flavor is so vague your taste-buds have to be super-sensitive to notice it. The plant, dried or fresh, isn’t even much chop as an insect repellent. The flowers, which have no perfume, can be dried and used in arrangements. As a herb, it’s not very useful, but it’s pretty in the garden.
How Mother Nature loves it:
Established plants need a sunny, well-drained place. They may easily outgrow any space you have for it! As the plants grow, keep trimming them regularly to maintain a supply of young leaves for cooking. Water regularly and feed during the growing season. In winter, keep the pot in a warm, frost-free place (minimum temperature 12°C.) In early April, soak the pot, re-pot if needed, and move the plants to a warm light place (around 18-20°C). The curry tree is native to India; today, it is found wild or become wild again, almost everywhere in the Indian subcontinent excluding the higher levels of the Himalayas. In the East, its range extends into Burma.
How to use it:
The plant produces an oil from its blossoms which is used for medicinal purposes. It is anti-inflammatory, fungicidal, and astringent. It soothes burns and raw chapped skin. It is used as a fixative in perfumes and has an intense fragrance. Use the leaves, since they lose their delicate fragrance when dried, you should try to obtain them fresh; don’t waste your time with the dried stuff! Curry powder is a British invention to imitate the flavor of Indian cooking with minimal effort. Some curry powders, or so the books tell, indeed contain curry leaves, but probably only for historic or linguistic reasons, since dried curry leaves lose their fragrance within days. Other typical Indian spices often contained in curry powders are dried ginger, ajwain and celery (as a substitute for Indian radhuni), furthermore salt, flour from lightly toasted lentils and aromatic Moghul spices in variable amounts (cinnamon, cloves, green cardamom, Indian bay-leaves)
Curry leaves may be kept in the refrigerator for some time, but are better kept frozen; do not remove them from the branches before usage.