This visual guide to herb identification makes identifying herbs a snap.
How well do you know the names of the fresh herbs? Many herbs look quite similar, so it’s easy to be confused. Do you often ask yourself – “What herb is this?”
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. These two herbs may look similar, but they have a very different taste when used in recipes, so it pays to know what you are buying.
Read on for a refresher course in identifying herbs. Armed with this list of herbs with pictures, you’ll be a herb master in no time!
Please note that this post identifies common herbs and gives information about them.
I do not offer a service to identify random plants that you think may be a herb.Comments have been turned off for this post for this reason.
Herb identification – What is this herb?
Most people know the names of a few fresh herbs that are most commonly used in recipes. Basil, thyme and rosemary have quite a distinctive look so it’s easy to remember what they are.
Others look quite similar so to have a list of herbs with pictures will be a big help in identifying them.
Fresh herbs give a huge boost of flavor to any recipe. Can you identify them all by sight? Check out the list of herbs with pictures to see how many you know on The Gardening Cook. #freshherbs #herbidentification #herbleaves 🍃🌿 Click To Tweet
Pin this herb identification chart for later
I hope you enjoy using this convenient herb identification chart. Why not pin it to Pinterest so that you can easily find it later:
The handy herb identification chart will come in handy when you are shopping and in deciding what herbs to grow. I have included the herbs that most cooks may come in contact with. You can print it out on your browser, or use the project card below which has a print function.
Many herbs have a very similar leaf structure, especially if the plant is not too developed.
Another herb that has a look-alike cousin is oregano. Look at the leaves of the two herbs in the image below. Can you see how easily it would be to get confused between the two?
Other look-alikes are lavender and rosemary. When shopping, I often pick up lavender thinking it is a pot of rosemary.
Let’s make it easier for you by compiling a list of herbs plants with pictures and their names. I’ve also added links to pages with growing tips if you decide you would like to grow them at home.
Herb gardening information
I am in the process of writing several additional 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.
List of herbs with pictures
Just click on any of the links under the images below to find out more about that fresh herb. Some do not have links yet, just the name of the herb. Stay tuned for new pages soon for growing tips for those herbs!
Herb Identification A – D
To make it easier for you, I have divided the list into several groups by alphabetical order, so that you can find the herb quickly.
Heading off our list of fresh herbs are some that are often used in the kitchen. Basil is often used in Italian cooking and bay leaf is a staple of soups and stews.
How well do you know this group of herbs? Do you cook with them?
Herb Identification D – M
From dill to mint, these fresh herbs will add a boost of flavor to recipes from fish to desserts. Fennel and lemon grass are two herbs that I have recently discovered.
Why not try a new herb today?
Herb Identification O – S
Italian cooking is featured in this group in a big way, and sage is a favorite herb for Thanksgiving recipes.
Oregano and parsley head up this list, but what about purple basil and stevia. Have you tried them yet?
Herb Identification T-Z
Finishing up my list of herbs to grow are some of my favorites. I love the anise like flavor of tarragon, and thyme is a herb that I use many times a week.
Turmeric and wheatgrass are two herbs that are less common but both have medical benefits.
If you have always used dried herbs and spices then you are probably lost when it comes to trying to identifying fresh herbs.
Guide to identifying herbs
Armed with this handy chart, you’ll soon be an expert at guessing herb identification by leaf. 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.
How to store herbs to use later
Fresh herbs will go bad quickly, so it is useful to know how to store and preserve them for later use. You can freeze herbs whole or freeze them in olive oil or water in single serving uses.
Making vinegar or herb butter is also a way to use up extra herbs at the end of the growing season. Check out this post for information on lots of different ways to preserve herbs.
How long will dried herbs last?
Dried herbs lose a lot of their aromatic properties as soon as the heat hits them. This also means that they lose a lot of their flavor.
However, dried herbs will last for quite a long time and fresh herbs wilt quickly once cut. 1 – 3 years is not uncommon for dried herbs, although much of the flavor will be gone by that time.
Find out more about storing dried herbs here.
Pin the herb identification chart
If you would like a reminder of this list of herbs with pictures, just pin this image to one of your gardening board on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.
For more identification, be sure to check out my list of perennial herbs, as well as my article on winter spices.
One botanical garden which has an impressive herb garden is the Memphis Botanic Garden. It features many varieties of fragrant, medicinal, and cooking herbs, as well as herbs for tea and dyes. If you enjoy learning about herbs, this area of the garden is well worth a visit.
The products shown below are affiliate links. I earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you if you purchase through an affiliate link.
Admin note: this post for identifying herbs first appeared on the blog in October of 2017. I have updated the post to add some additional herb photos, more herbs to identify, and a video for you to enjoy.
Herb Identifier Chart Printable
This handy herb identification chart will take the guess work out of identifying herbs. Print it out and keep it in your gardening journal for easy access.
- Glossy photo paper or heavy card stock
- Deskjet Printer
- Add heavy card stock or glossy photo paper to your printer.
- Be sure to set the printer to portrait and "fit to page."
- Print out the herb identification chart and keep with your gardening journal.
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Friday 2nd of September 2022
I have a plant I cannot identify. It looks like the poisonous plant that grows here locally but sure does looks a lot like caraway. I have already pulled one out as it was flowering but now there are 5 plants growing in my garden space that Im not using now. I don't see a box to upload my photo tho... Help please!
Friday 2nd of September 2022
I do not identify photos of any plants. This post is about the identification of specific common herbs and their characteristics.
Tuesday 20th of July 2021
I receive herbs once a week, but they are never marked with the name of the herb. I can usually tell by smell, if not by sight; however, this one has me baffled. When I first tasted it, it had a licorice taste, but after chewing, it left kind of a numbing feeling on my tongue. The leaves are green, long and thin. What is this herb?
I would send a photo, but I can’t figure out how to do that. I’m 80 and electronically challenged!
Tuesday 20th of July 2021
It sounds like tarragon. You can read about it and see photos here.
Monday 6th of January 2020
We recentl purchases a home that has a few herbs in the neglected garden. I have a plant that resembles rosemary, but it smells like maple syrup? any ideas on what it is and its uses?
Wednesday 8th of January 2020
I have not heard of a herb which has the smell of maple syrup.
Monday 21st of October 2019
Hello, might you know of a Internet site that includes pictures of the herbs and covers some of the lesser known genus such as Rumez and Plantago?
Thursday 24th of October 2019
I don't know of a site like this but searching on Google might give you the info you need.
Tuesday 10th of September 2019
I have two plants that I believe are herbs, but cannot find out what they are. Can anyone there tell me if I send a photo of them.
Sunday 15th of September 2019
Hi Judy. I sent you an email with instructions for photos.