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Hoja santa

Piperaceae

Hoja santa (Piper auritum) is a non-native herbaceous perennial in the Piperaceae. The genus Piper is famous for also containing the black pepper species (Piper nigrum). The leaves are alternate, simple, large, and heart shaped with palmate major veins. The lower portion of the petiole is pink and is split laterally above with the two halves wrapped around the stem. The stem has swollen nodes. The flowers are a distinct white spike. The name hoja santa means "sacred leaf" in Spanish. It is also known as yerba santa, hierba santa, Mexican pepperleaf, acuyo, tlanepa, anisillo, root beer plant, Vera Cruz pepper and sacred pepper. It is often used in Mexican cuisine for tamales, the fish or meat wrapped in fragrant leaves for cooking, and as an essential ingredient in mole verde, the green sauce originated in the Oaxaca region of Mexico. It is also chopped to flavor eggs and soups, such as pozole. In Central Mexico, it is used to flavor chocolate drinks. In southeastern Mexico, a green liquor called Verdín is made from hoja santa. It is also used for tea. In some regions of Mexico, goat cheese is wrapped with the hoja santa leaves and imbued with its flavor. Some planted at Allen Acres and have survived several winters including the 8 degrees back in February.