Rest in Peace Father Kino

Three hundred and thirteen years ago this week Father Kino died – on March 15, 1711.      We remember Padre Kino 313 years later because he was so very far ahead of his time.    He fought against slavery and racism – truly radical notions for his time. He worked tirelessly for all humans to be treated with dignity and respect.

Ahead of His Time

I write of Father Kino on a gardening site because his humane treatment of people included respecting the uses of plants by Native peoples – uses that would have been lost in time if he had not welcomed and fostered such knowledge, encouraging native herbs in the gardens, fields, kitchens, and infirmaries of the missions, assistancias, and visitas that he was in charge of.


In his travels in this region, then called the Pimería Alta, Father Kino interacted with 16 different tribes, specifically the Cocopa, Eudeve, Hia ced O’odham (called Yumans by Kino), Kamia, Kavelchadon, Kiliwa, Maricopa, Mountain Pima, Opata, Quechan, River Pima, Seri, Tohono O’odham, Western Apache, Yavapai, and the Yaqui (Yoeme).

Preserved Herb (and other) Knowledge

In my book Father Kino’s Herbs: Growing and Using Them Today, half the herbs discussed were ones used by Natives, while half were European imports to our area. Note that some of these imports came originally from Asia or other parts of the globe.    Over the years, I have mentioned a number of these herbs in my articles and blogs.   Most of these articles were lost to the hackers, but you can use the search bar on this new site and type in “Kino.”  I am slowly updating and re-posting the information, like this post about the Lovely Lycium.


Kino Herbs in my Garden

My garden reflects this half native and half imported!  ((Please note that non-native plants are not a problem. Invasive plants are an issue. More on that topic – soon.))

Sculpture of Kino in the U.S. Capitol Building includes a prickly pear with a heart shaped pad – commemorating the fact that Feb. 14 is Arizona Statehood Day.

Right now in the Soule Garden, as the season warms, I have both native New World and European imports sprouting.    I have both the native epazote, and the Old World basil.    Both are coming back from seed that have planted themselves!

The basil coming back from seed is “Mrs. Burn’s Famous Lemon Basil.”    Originally (about 2 decades ago) I bought the seed from Native Seeds/SEARCH.    It is an ideal basil for this area, very drought tolerant, and ideal for the kitchen too, with delightful flavor.   Here’s how to grow basil.

Epazote is a native herb that helps “pre-digest” beans if you add some leaves while they are cooking.    Strongly scented epazote does NOT carry that flavor with it – indeed you will not taste it at all. More about epazote on Savor the Southwest.

Want More Herbs?

I do give numerous talks about Father Kino’s herbs, both online and in person.    Each talk varies because it depends on season, audience, and where in the world the audience lives.    For example, my presentation to the Cochise County Chapter of the Arizona Native Plant Society ( included the “Kino herbs” that grow wild in their part of the Arizona, or can be cultivated in their landscapes. My presentation to the American Herb Society focused on the European imports and the few native herbs that might also survive in places like Minnesota. You can book me by leaving me a note in the comments below.  (while some technical issues get ironed out.)

Kino wheat is one of the heritage plants that grows well in our area. In Low and Middle Desert you could plant some next autumn for spring harvest.

More about Kino

Father Kino was born Eusebio Francesco Chini in Segno, in what is now northeastern Italy, on August 10, 1645.    The name Kino is the German version of his last name, which coincidentally also made for greater ease of Spanish pronunciation.    Learn more at


The local artist that created the cover of my book, the talented Niki Glen, used images based on descriptions of Father Kino, plus drawings, and sculptures that others did of featuring his face. All of these are based upon descriptions of how Padre Kino looked – descriptions written in his time. Some of the images are also based on potential family resemblance. Descendants of his birth family live on in the same town where he was born.


Fun Fact

The drawings inside the book are all by me. The plants, and desert scenes, and even the one I did of Padre Kino, all reflect the fact that I spent far more time perfecting my scientific illustration drawings of plants, and even horses, over my drawings of people.


Kino’s Legacy

Although we mark his death day, Father Kino lives on in many ways. His encouragement of native plants and Native peoples has enabled the sharing of a vast treasury of herb lore that was lost in other areas. Father Kino lives on here in our Southwest gardens – in mine, and hopefully in yours.

About 100 NEW copies left!

soule-kino-southwestThe last few copies of this out-of-print award winning Southwestern book are now for sale. Father Kino’s Herbs: Growing and Using Them Today   The review says:

“Award-winning garden writer Dr. Jacqueline A. Soule has pulled together a fascinating book on the life of Father Eusebio Francisco Kino and some of the plants that he brought to Southern Arizona and northwestern Sonora, and area called the Pimeria Alta.”

A steal at only $20!  This link is to our sales site. The profits from the sale go to the local Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute.  We hope you will help support this great Southwest non-profit!

Legal Notes

© Article copyright Jacqueline A. Soule // Gardening With Soule. All rights reserved. You must ask permission to republish an entire blog post or article. Okay to use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit. You must include a link back to the original post on our site. No stealing photos.


The authors of this website have researched the edibility of the materials we discuss, however, humans vary in their ability to tolerate different foods, drinks, and herbs. Individuals consuming flowers, plants, animals or derivatives mentioned in this blog do so entirely at their own risk. The authors on this site cannot be held responsible for any adverse reaction. In case of doubt please consult your medical practitioner.

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