The plant known as epazote or Mexican tea (Dysphania ambrosioides) is naturalized in the eastern United States as a weed in gardens, on roadsides, and in waste places. It is a pungent herb that has traditionally been used as a flavoring for black beans and is reputed to have carminative and anti-parasitic properties. Until recently most authorities called this plant Chenopodium ambrosioides. However the genus Dysphania, which was originally applied to a small number of Australian species, has been expanded to include species of Chenopodium with glandular trichomes (Mosyakin & Clemants 2002).
The essential oil of the plant consists mostly of the bicyclic monoterpene ascaridole. The name is likely derived from the genus of parasitic nematodes Ascaris. It is reputed to be explosive when heated or treated with organic acids. The chemical structure of ascaridole seems to hint at the hazardous potential of this compound.
Mosyakin, S.L. and S.E. Clemants. 2002. New nomenclatural combinations in Dysphania R. Br. (Chenopodiaceae): taxa occurring in North America. Ukrayinsk. Bot. Zhurn. (Ukr. Bot. J.) 59:380385.