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The pericón (Tagetes lucida Cav.) of the Asteraceae family, also known as Mexican tarragon, grows naturally in the foothills of the mountains around Teotitlán del Valle, where it is used to make a beautiful and vibrant yellow dye. Also called Santa María and Yerbanís comes from the Nahuatl word “Yiauhtli” which means 'weed of the clouds'. Medicinal and religious properties are attributed to this plant native to Mexico and Guatemala.


According to the Digital Library of Traditional Mexican Medicine, both its flowers and its stems can be used, which resemble cempasúchil, has a smell and taste very similar to anise, which is why it is also called 'anisillo'.


Since ancient times, it has been used in rituals - among others, a cross made of pericón flowers is placed at midnight on September 28th to mark dawn on September 29th. This is a Catholic tradition; it alludes to the pitched battle that San Miguel waged when facing the Devil. This is a popular legend that narrates the escape from evil on the eve of the feast of this archangel.


In accordance with tradition, on the night of September 28th, the pericón flower crosses (which smell of anise) are placed on doors, windows, in the four corners of the fields, in shops, in vehicles and at the crossroads. With the intention of preventing the devil from entering and causing no harm.

Also, the pericón is a plant formerly associated with the cult of Tlaloc. The magical-religious importance of the Yauhtli is not only because it is an indigenous heritage, but also because it is essentially a Mexican heritage that is still used for ritual and healing purposes.


It is relevant to note that the offerings discovered in the 'Templo Mayor' - (Great Temple) dedicated to Tlaloc had remains of yauhtli. The plant was used as incense and as an offering flower in the festivities dedicated to the God of rain.


  • Pericon is a perennial herbaceous plant that reaches up to 80 cm in height, with a slightly branched stem; the leaves are simple and opposite; the inflorescences are heads arranged in corymbs that contain yellow flowers, with a pleasant aniseed smell. Phenology: flowers from September to November.

    As a species, it can be found in several states of the Mexican Republic, growing in a temperate climate; in Morelos, it is found in the northern municipalities of the state and develops in pine-oak forests, low deciduous forests and transition zones.

    It has scientific validation as it has antibiotic activity.

    The flowers and leaves are used to flavour the corn and do not cause digestive damage. 

    It is also used as an insecticide. By burning dried flowers and leaves, the smoke drives away mosquitoes. It is used to prepare drinks and liquors so that they have an aniseed flavour and smell in order to be ingested as a curative-digestive.

  • Botanical name: Tagetes lucida

    Common names: Pericón, yerbanís or Santa María

    Primary dyestuff: Flower, stem, leaves

    Key components: Quercetin

    Class of dye: Flavonoid

    Light and wash-fastness: High

    Colour: From light, buttery yellow to deep, brownish gold, depending on the fiber and the ratio of dye material to fibre. This is also a fabulous base for additional colour overdyes.

    pH sensitivity: Stable

    Dye bath method: Suitable for both cold and hot dyeing

    Recommended quantity of dye: 30-100% WOF


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