Another way spilanthes are used commercially is in a trendy Brazilian beverage called cachaça de jambú. Cachaça is a spirit made from fermented raw sugarcane and is one of Brazil’s most popular alcoholic beverages. Known as Brazilian rum, the raw sugarcane gives it a lighter, more herbal-y flavor than rum, which is made from cooked sugarcane (also known as molasses).
At a recent herbal apprenticeship class, I was introduced to Acmella oleracea, also known as spilanthes, buzz buttons or the “toothache plant.”
Spilanthes is a frost-tender tropical plant and not remotely native to northern climates, but it can be grown as an annual in most growing zones given enough sun and water. With unusual looking yellow and red gumdrop-shaped flower heads, spilanthes can be a visually striking addition to a flower or herb garden.