Culantro is an herb I found this year at one of the big box stores and since I had never heard of it, I thought I would give it a try. The sign on the rack said it had the same flavor as cilantro and since my cilantro leaves only seem to be plentiful in the spring, this could be useful later in the summer. I usually use cilantro in salsas with fresh tomatoes or tomatillos or other salads made with fresh garden veggies. By the time the tomatoes are ready, the cilantro has gone to seed and is not very leafy at all. Culantro could very easily be used in place of cilantro in these instances. It would also be good with black beans. I am specifically thinking of a cooked black bean salsa that is served over cheesy grits. I haven't made it in a while but that may be just the thing to use some of this new herb I have.
Culantro is from the same family as cilantro and it does have the same flavor, although a bit stronger. It is indigenous the Caribbean, Latin America and the West Indies. The leaves are serrated and really quite sharp, so you must be careful. To me, this characteristic does not lend it to be useful for eating, but if they are chopped well enough or pulverized in the food processor it won't make a difference. I did read that it grows naturally in shaded, moist areas. So perhaps mine is so prickly because it is growing in the full sun. One advantage to the prickly leaves is that the deer have not eaten it, and it is one of the few successes from my garden this year. I have read that it is attractive to beneficial insects such as the ladybug. I haven't noticed any around it but I haven't looked for them either.
It looks like it has little flower heads, although they are not much to look at, but you can definitely see the jagged leaves in the close up photo.
I don't think this will over winter here in zone 5 but I would buy it again if I see it. Of course, I may get lucky and it will self-seed. I guess I will find out next spring.