Herb Identification – Identifying Fresh Herbs

How well do you know the names of the fresh herbs? Many herbs look quite similar, so it’s easy to be confused. This visual guide to herb identification makes identifying fresh herbs a snap.This handy chart makes Herb Identification a snap. #herbidentification #kitchenherbs

Herb Identification  – Do you know your herbs?

Most people know the names of a few fresh herbs that are most commonly used in recipes.  Basil and rosemary have quite a distinctive look so it’s easy to remember what they are.

However, many other herbs have a very similar leaf structure, especially if the plant is not too developed. This can make it hard to identify the plant you have in front of you.

I can’t tell you how many times I have come back from a shopping trip with a bunch of cilantro, thinking that I had picked up flat leaf parsley parsley.  These two herbs may look similar but have a very different taste when used in recipes.so it pays to know what you are buying.

Another herb that has a look alike cousin is oregano.  Look at the marjoram leaves in the picture above. Can you see how easily it would be to get confused between the two?

Herb Gardening Information

I am in the process of writing several articles that give information on how to grow and use the various herbs in the photo above above.  Be sure to check back often to see more posts.

Just click on any of the photos or links below to find out more about that fresh herb.

Basil PlantBasil Bay leaves can be grown in your gardenBay Laurel How to grow chervilChervil
Growing Fresh ChivesChives Growing ccilantroCilantro Fresh Dill plantDill
Oregano PlantOregano Rosemary PlantRosemary Thyme plantThyme
Growing WheatgrassWheatgrass

If you have always used dried herbs and spices then you are probably lost when it comes to trying to identifying herbs.  This handy herb identification chart will come come in handy.  I have included the herbs that most cooks may come in contact with.

Guide to Growing Herbs

Armed with this handy chart, you’ll soon be an expert at guessing the names of herbs by sight.  The next step will be learning about the smell of different herbs. I find that even more interesting.

We’ve all seen those little bubble packs of fresh herbs at the grocery store, but did you know that you can easily grow herbs yourself?  I’ve written a complete guide that will give you all the information you need in one place. Be sure to check out my guide to growing herbs.

I hope you enjoy using this convenient herb identification chart. I  would suggest that you pin it to Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.

For more identification, be sure to check out my list of perennial herbs and watch the video at the top of this page for photos and names of more herbs.



Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

  44 comments for “Herb Identification – Identifying Fresh Herbs

  1. Sue
    05/23/2018 at 6:47 pm

    Can you tell me what this is? It appears to resemble rosemary leaves in one way, is very fragrant and smells much like rosemary, but with an overpowering and very lovely smell that smells like someone just cooked a dish with lemons and olives! I have used it in cooking for a couple of years (with no ill effects), but inherited it in the house we bought and I’ve been unable to identify it. Thanks! It gets very small, compact yellow flowers (you can see a few are just about to bloom), in the spring at the top of the stems.

    • Carol
      05/24/2018 at 9:45 am

      I’m not sure I know what that is. Is it sticky to gardening gloves? I have a weed that grows in my yard that sticks to my gloves that looks like that plant. Other than that, I am afraid I don’t know what it is. Carol

    • Sandra Miller
      07/03/2018 at 4:58 am

      I believe it to be chamomile as it looks just like mine. In Victorian times this was cultivated to make lawns

      • Carol
        07/03/2018 at 11:26 am

        Thanks for the tip Sandra. I just Googled chamomile images and it does appear to be the plant that Sue gave the picture for. Carol

  2. Arun Kumar
    06/06/2018 at 7:48 am

    Can you tell name of this plant

    • Carol
      06/06/2018 at 9:14 am

      Hi Arun. It looks a bit like Viburnum. Carol

  3. Hanna
    06/10/2018 at 11:25 am

    Hi are you able to tell me what this is? It’s growing little yellow flowers but very fragrant! Thank you

    • Carol
      06/21/2018 at 12:00 pm

      Hi Hanna. That looks like a weed to me. Carol

  4. Beka
    06/20/2018 at 10:29 pm

    Can you identify this? I thought it was a weed but it smells like an herb. It’s in my herb garden and I’m not sure if it’s from last year or??

    • Carol
      06/21/2018 at 12:04 pm

      Hi Beka. That doesn’t look like any herb that I am familiar with. I’ve never seen a plant with that leaf coloring before. Carol

      • Beka
        06/22/2018 at 6:15 pm

        Thank you! Maybe it’s taking on the smell of the herbs next to it.

  5. Beka
    06/20/2018 at 10:30 pm

    I pretty sure this one is thyme but my husband and I aren’t 100%

    • Carol
      06/21/2018 at 12:00 pm

      Hi Beca. Not thyme. Thyme has tiny leaves. The leaves and flowers look like oregano but it’s a pretty large plant. Mine are much smaller. Carol

      • Beka
        06/22/2018 at 6:16 pm

        Thank you Carol

        • Suzanne L Harris
          08/05/2018 at 12:45 am

          I grow a few herbs and this appears to be oregano. Mine comes back every year and it gets this big.Sue

    • JulieAnn Koebbe
      10/28/2018 at 9:04 am

      This looks like oregano to me, too. I have oregano that grows into bushes over five feet here in the tropics. Also, I have cut them back to the base and they come back every time.

  6. Rebecca Terry
    07/06/2018 at 3:19 pm

    My neighbor got this at a farmers market, but I’ve never seen it before.

    • Carol
      07/06/2018 at 3:27 pm

      That looks like dill to me. Some of the stems can be thick like that. Carol

  7. Cheryl DeBow
    07/15/2018 at 11:57 am

    I am thinking this is thyme but everything I have looked up shows purple in the stem. This doesn’t. It does have a strong herblike smell. I’m below novice level.

    • Cheryl DeBow
      07/15/2018 at 12:15 pm

      Sorry, I meant sage.

      • Carol
        07/15/2018 at 3:11 pm

        Hi Cheryl. It does look like sage to me. Some sage is plain green. The leaves are usually a bit fuzzy looking. Purple sage has purple stems but not all sage does. Carol

  8. Gloria
    08/07/2018 at 9:26 am

    Do you know what this is?

    • Carol
      08/07/2018 at 11:26 am

      Not sure but it’s possibly common sage. Carol

      • Mika
        11/02/2018 at 10:11 pm

        It’s a callaloo plant.

        • Carol
          11/03/2018 at 10:40 pm

          Thanks for the identification Mika. Carol

  9. Joe
    08/16/2018 at 8:39 pm

    Hello,
    Any idea what this is? It has a reddish stem with some red veins.
    Thank you

    • Carol
      08/16/2018 at 11:25 pm

      Hi Joe. That one looks a bit like a hitchiker plant not a herb. (bird droppings can move seeds around.) The other thought was Malabar red spinach, but the leaves don’t look right. Carol

  10. Dawn
    08/18/2018 at 10:38 am

    Can some tell me what this is?

    • Carol
      08/18/2018 at 3:15 pm

      It does not look like any herb that I am aware of. It looks something like hypercarium or portulaca but I am not sure. Carol

    • JulieAnn Koebbe
      10/28/2018 at 9:02 am

      It looks like portulaca which is probably not considered an herb but it is in fact edible.

  11. Cecilia Vissel
    08/30/2018 at 5:08 pm

    Does anyone know what herb this is?

  12. John Wulf
    09/26/2018 at 10:39 pm

    Not sure … Came up in anHerb Garden, but doesn’t match what I planted …

  13. kimberly a taylor
    09/28/2018 at 8:44 pm

    This is a plant i found in my backyard that i have never seen before and have no idea what it is but it smells like it could be a herb please help me identify it.
    Thank you
    Kimberly

    • Carol
      09/29/2018 at 7:20 pm

      Can’t quite see the detail but it looks like some sort of fern to me.

  14. Michelle
    10/05/2018 at 7:14 pm

    Hello, we picked this up today at our Farmer’s Market but cannot remember what it was! Help!

    • Carol
      10/06/2018 at 6:02 pm

      It might be sage although that doesn’t normally vine like that plant does.

  15. Lynda
    10/12/2018 at 12:27 pm

    I found this growing beneath the thyme that draped over the planter. Any idea what it might be? I use this long planter every year to grow herbs on the porch, and wonder if it may have seeded from last year.
    Thank you

    • Carol
      10/12/2018 at 6:33 pm

      It looks a bit like oregano to me.

      • Lynda
        10/13/2018 at 10:53 am

        Oregano. What a surprise, I didn’t know herbs could survive our winters.
        I’m so glad I found your website, it is full of wonderful information and helpful hints. At 73 and retired, I’m learning how to make healthy tasty foods without salt for my family and will chop fresh thyme, basil, rosemary, and sage together and add to everything, soups, stews, sauces, rubs. They love it. With your site, I’m going to try to grow a few herbs indoors this winter.
        Thank you so much Carol.

        • Carol
          10/13/2018 at 11:21 am

          My pleasure Lynda. My oregano always comes back each year, but I”m in zone 7b which is reasonably mild, although we do get some snow in the winter. Carol

  16. Zak
    10/21/2018 at 1:39 pm

    I bought seeds online and this one said it’s rosemary but does not look like a rosemary at all. Can you identify it?

    • Carol
      10/21/2018 at 3:58 pm

      Not sure Zak. It looks a bit like Sorrel. Carol

  17. Wanda Storie
    11/14/2018 at 12:19 pm

    Can you tell me what plant this is?

    • Carol
      11/15/2018 at 7:15 pm

      They look a bit like basil seedlings.

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