21 Herbs for Your Perennial Edible Garden

Perennial herbs bring years of culinary goodness to the edible garden, high ornamental value, and pollinator enrichment. Explore favorite perennial herb selections with gardening expert Katherine Rowe for enticing selections to grow this season.

A tiered garden bed featuring vibrant herb plants arranged neatly, bathed in soft sunlight.


Perennial herbs are gifts in the edible garden year after year, returning from established roots each growing season. In areas with cold winters, many perennial herbs enter seasonal dormancy and remerge in the warming temperatures of spring. In mild climates, they continue growing or remain semi-evergreen year-round.

Perennial herbs differ from annual herbs, which do all their growing, flowering, and seed production over the course of a single growing cycle. Perennials grow for years, whether short-lived like feverfew or long-lived like chives. Some perennial edible herbs are cold hardy, while others are tender perennials. Tender perennials persist in warm climates but die back with frost in cool climates and grow as annuals.

Most herbs are native to the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia. Your climate and USDA hardiness zone help determine which edible herbs perennialize in your area, and the selection of perennial herbs is nearly limitless for recurring goodness in the garden. 

Not only are hardy edible herbs useful and tasty, but many are highly ornamental and also attract beneficial insects and pollinators. They blend beautifully into the vegetable and potager garden or among garden beds with other perennials. Harvest herbs fresh from the garden and expand your culinary selection with these favorite perennial herbs.

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Common Chives

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Common Chives Seeds

Lemon Balm

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English Thyme Seeds


Slender chives with purple flowers, bathed in sunlight, showcasing their vibrant beauty.
These serve both culinary and ornamental purposes in gardens.
botanical-name botanical name Allium schoenoprasum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

Chives are among the first herbs to pop up in spring and one of the easiest to grow. As durable, low-maintenance little plants, chives reward the gardener for years. The leaves and flowers are edible; lavender pom-pom blooms emerge in spring and early summer, drawing pollinators to the garden. Fresh blue-green blades bear a fine texture and subtle onion flavor.

Chives are unfussy and drought-tolerant, thriving in full sun and moist, well-draining soils. In cold climates, plants enter dormancy over the winter. In mild climates, they remain semi-evergreen. Chives fade in hot southern summers with high humidity, where they grow best with afternoon protection where direct sun is intense.

Chives have a long garden history, cultivated since the Middle Ages in Europe and for over 4,000 years in China. They serve the herb garden, ornamental borders, and containers. Common chives are related to perennial garlic chives (Allium tuberosum), whose bright blades are larger and have a more robust garlic flavor. Grow both for versatile flavors and hardy growth.


Vibrant green tarragon leaves arranged in a dense cluster, hinting at their fresh and aromatic qualities.
Mexican tarragon is a heat-loving plant from Central and South America.
botanical-name botanical name Artemisia dracunculus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Tarragon comes in three types: French, Russian, and Mexican. True tarragon is the French, Artemisia dracunculus. Native to Russia and western Asia but popularized in European cuisine, French tarragon has the purest anise flavor and glossy, aromatic leaves. Cooking tarragon lends a mellow, sweet flavor.

Russian tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus var. dracunculus) is a taller, coarser plant with lesser flavor than the French. Vigorous plants grow to five feet tall. Russian tarragon grows from seed, while French tarragon propagates through vegetative cuttings (plants seldom flower, and seeds may be sterile).

Mexican tarragon is a heat-loving alternative to French tarragon. Also called summer tarragon, Mexican marigold, and Spanish tarragon, this tarragon is native to Central and South America. Mexican tarragon produces clusters of gold, daisy-like flowers in late summer and fall. The flowers are edible and sweet, ideal for teas and garnishes. 

Tarragon grows best in light, well-draining soils in a warm, sunny garden. French tarragon doesn’t withstand waterlogged conditions or hot southern summers. Allow soils to dry slightly between waterings and provide mulch for insulation in winter.


A close-up of rosemary herbs, featuring delicate purple flowers under bright sunlight.
Drought-tolerant rosemary is a versatile perennial available in upright and cascading forms.
botanical-name botanical name Salvia rosmarinus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 3-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-10

Rosemary adds form and fragrance to the herb garden. In early summer, small blue blooms cover the stems, adding seasonal interest to evergreen foliage and attracting pollinators. 

Rosemary leaves and flowers have a lemony, cypress, camphor scent and flavor. Needled foliage is highly aromatic and perfect for clipping for fragrance, decoration, and culinary uses.

A Mediterranean plant, rosemary thrives in full sun with very well-draining soil. It’s a drought-tolerant, carefree perennial with multi-season appeal. Look for upright varieties like ‘Barbecue’ or ‘Arp’ for a stiff texture and broad leaves. Cascading forms like ‘Huntington Carpet’ trail and spill to soften garden spaces.


A close-up of lush oregano leaves, shiny and textured with a fuzzy surface.
Ensure good air circulation to prevent it from rotting in high humidity.
botanical-name botanical name Origanum spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 6”-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-10

Oregano is both an herb and an ornamental garden perennial. Its mounding habit, delicate foliage, and tiny pink, purple, or white blooms make it as pretty in the perennial border as in the edible garden. Oregano became popular in the United States when soldiers returned from World War II. They enjoyed it on Italian dishes and pizza while abroad and brought the taste for it home.

Native to Mediterranean climates, oregano prefers arid conditions and struggles in overly wet sites. In areas with high humidity, provide good air circulation and well-draining soils to prevent stem and root rot. A raised bed or container planting helps, too.

Oregano benefits from regular moisture and full sun. It tolerates light afternoon shade in the heat of summer. There are many species and cultivars of oregano, and it has the potential to spread aggressively in optimum growing conditions. Container-grown oregano offers a means of control. 

Roman Chamomile

Roman chamomile plant featuring delicate, sunlit leaves and small, white flowers adorned with yellow centers.
This aromatic plant is suitable for tea and potpourris.
botanical-name botanical name Chamaemelum nobile
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3-6”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Roman chamomile (English or garden chamomile) is a perennial herb similar to annual chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla). Both are in the daisy family and produce clusters of daisy-like flowers and feathery leaves, though Roman chamomile plants are evergreen, shorter, and coarser-textured. Roman chamomile forms a low-spreading mat.

Roman chamomile blooms throughout summer and into fall, attracting pollinators. Sturdy stems root easily and spread to create a lovely groundcover or border planting, though plants may get out of bounds if left untended. Roman chamomile provides a lawn alternative that withstands mowing and minimal foot traffic. 

The flowers are suitable for making soothing chamomile tea and potpourris and enjoying them as an aromatic garden plant with a light, fruity fragrance. Roman chamomile is disease, pest, and deer resistant and tolerates poor soils and periods of drought. 


Lavender flowers dance gently in the breeze, their slender stems gracefully supporting them.
Plant in full sun and well-draining soil to prevent fungal issues.
botanical-name botanical name Lavandula spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Lavender carries a refreshing fragrance, silvery foliage, purple bloom spikes, and many uses, from cleansing to culinary. Whether it’s one of the many English, French, Spanish, or Dutch varieties, lavender makes a showy evergreen specimen in the herb garden and beyond. 

This sun-loving Mediterranean plant grows in arid, warm summers and cool winters. Plant lavender in full sun in average and well-draining soils. Plants tolerate dry conditions.

In hot climates with high humidity, use more tolerant varieties like L. x intermedia ‘Phenomenal’ and L. angustifolia ‘Superblue’. Lavender needs good air circulation; too much moisture leads to fungal issues like root and stem rot.

Lemon Balm

A close-up of lemon balm leaves showing textured surfaces with serrated edges, under soft natural lighting.
Regular trimming and container growth can keep lemon balm manageable.
botanical-name botanical name Melissa officinalis
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-7

Lemon balm brings zesty refreshment to the garden. Its lemon-scented leaves offer a burst of citrus aromatherapy. Grow lemon balm for its aromatic leaves and culinary flavor in teas and beverages, soups, sauces, and more. 

Mounding plants have oval or heart-shaped bright green leaves, some varieties with variegation. The low-growing plants are dense and produce small bloom spikes in summer and fall. Leaves are edible, and fresh new leaves are the most flavorful.

Grow lemon balm in full sun to partial shade in rich soils with good drainage. They spread easily (and at times aggressively) and reseed after flowering. Trimming and deadheading keep plants in check and promote a fresh flush of leaves. Lemon balm grows well in containers and raised beds to keep them from getting out of bounds. 


Fennel plants featuring clusters of small, yellow flowers against a backdrop of feathery green foliage.
This herb features edible tawny fronds with a sweet anise flavor.
botanical-name botanical name Foeniculum vulgare
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 4-6’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Fennel features tall, feathery, anise-flavored foliage. Sizeable yellow flower umbels appear in summer and attract numerous pollinators and beneficial insects. Fennel is a host plant for species of swallowtail butterflies. Since plants readily self-seed, they escape and naturalize easily, becoming invasive in some areas. Deadhead spent blooms to prevent unwanted volunteers.

Look for bronze fennel for a beautiful herb garden addition. It produces edible tawny fronds with a sweet anise flavor and brings attractive garden interest in color and form. 

Native to the Mediterranean, fennel grows best in full sun with organically rich, well-draining soils, though it adapts to a variety of conditions.

Pineapple Sage

A close-up of red pineapple sage flowers, contrasting sharply with a soft, blurred backdrop of lush green foliage.
Their fruity flavor is reminiscent of mint and pineapple.
botanical-name botanical name Salvia elegans
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-10

For a hint of the tropical, opt for the highly ornamental pineapple sage. This salvia is heat-tolerant and grows in dappled shade, brightening the display with scarlet blooms in late summer and fall.

The leaves and flowers of pineapple sage are edible, and their fruity flavor is reminiscent of mint and pineapple. The nectar-rich tubular blooms draw hummingbirds and other pollinators.

Pineapple sage thrives in moist, well-drained soils and tolerates moderate drought. It grows in full sun to partial shade, and ideal garden placement receives morning sun and dappled afternoon shade with protection from scorching rays.


Fresh, vibrant mint leaves with a lush, glossy texture, reflecting light beautifully.
Manage mint effectively by harvesting leaves regularly to prevent spreading.
botanical-name botanical name Mentha spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 6”-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-10

Mint creates a low-growing carpet of freshly-scented leaves. Spearmint (Mentha spicata) and peppermint (Mentha x piperita) are popular species and extremely easy to grow. Cultivars like applemint, pineapple, orange, and chocolate lend unique undertones to mint fragrance and flavor.

Harvest mint leaves frequently to enjoy and to inhibit spreading, flowering, and seed production. Mint spreads readily and escapes the herb garden into adjacent landscapes if not controlled. Mint makes an excellent container-grown herb. The stems, even those trailing from containers, root easily with soil contact.

Mint grows best in consistently moist, well-drained soils in full sun to partial shade. Dappled light or afternoon shade is best in areas with hot summers. 


Sorrel plants with broad leaves flourishing in nutrient-rich, dark soil.
Its young leaves are tangy with hints of raspberry.
botanical-name botanical name Rumex spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 12-18”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Sorrel (Rumex acetosa, R. scutatus) emerges with tender, flavorful leaves in early spring. Young leaves are fresh green with a tart, lemony flavor. They can be enjoyed fresh or cooked (which mellows the tartness).

In southern climates, sorrel performs as a cool season annual, wilting in hot, humid summers. In colder climates, it grows from spring through fall and enters dormancy over the winter. Harvest leaves continually from spring until frost. Easily divide plants if clumps become large or crowded over time.

Red-veined sorrel (Rumex sanguineus) has true green leaves deeply lined with scarlet venation. These perennial herbs are edible and ornamental and make a lovely display with blooms like pansies, violas, and foxgloves. Young leaves are soft and fiercely tangy, with a hint of sharp raspberry notes. Older leaves become tougher and more bitter.

Bay Laurel

A close-up of green bay laurel leaves featuring sharply serrated edges.
This thrives with shaping and pruning for fresh growth.
botanical-name botanical name Laurus nobilis
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 12’ (up to 60’ in native habitat)
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-10

Bay laurel, or sweet bay, is a unique herb garden addition. It is a small, evergreen shrub or tree with attractive dark green and glossy leaves. Bay leaves are flavorful culinary additions, both fresh and dried. They add flavor to soups, stews, roasts, and sauces (removing the leaf before serving), especially in slow cooking.

Bay is a slow-grower that is well-suited to container culture. Potted plants overwinter indoors where they are not hardy. Plants take shaping and pruning well, which promotes fresh growth.

Bay laurel is an easy-care plant. It needs little more than regular water and partial shade in hot climates for best growth. In cooler areas, it grows in full sun.


Small thyme leaves bask in sunlight, creating a scene of delicate freshness.
Varieties like creeping and wooly are hardy groundcovers with petite leaves.
botanical-name botanical name Thymus spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-18”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Thyme and its many species and cultivars lend a variety of flavors to the kitchen. Common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is used most for culinary purposes with a minty clove fragrance. Lemon, orange, and nutmeg are other varieties with unique aromatic and flavor notes. Thyme is versatile in the garden with culinary and ornamental uses, fitting into small spaces as a carefree, durable herb.

Though the plants are tough, thyme features petite leaves on wiry stems for a delicate look. Creeping thyme (Thymus serpyllum) forms a groundcover, and wooly thyme (Thymus praecox) is useful as a turf alternative. Thyme also works in areas between stepping stones and along rocky ledges. Its small flowers attract pollinators.

Thyme grows best in full sun and fast-draining soils. Once established, it is drought-tolerant. Plants wither in overly wet conditions.

Winter Savory

Purple winter savory flowers nestled among lush green leaves, showcasing nature's contrast in color.
The species Satureja montana and Satureja hortensis prefer moderately moist, well-drained soil.
botanical-name botanical name Satureja spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-2’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-10

Look to savory for an herb that stands up to hot summers and is similar in flavor to thyme. Georgia savory, Satureja georgiana, is a native savory that flourishes in high heat. 

Satureja montana, winter savory, is planted in early spring for harvesting in the summer. The low-growing plants have a fast growth rate and bear edible leaves and flowers. The leaves have a peppery spice flavor, often used in salads, stews, meats, and sauces.

Satureja hortensis is summer savory, an annual cousin to the perennial winter savory. Summer savory has a milder peppery flavor than winter savory. Plants grow quickly and prefer mild climates without overly hot or humid summers.

Savory grows well in full sun with moderately moist soils with good drainage. It tolerates poor soils and occasionally dry conditions.


Sage herb leaves with a silvery-green color and a wrinkled texture, arranged in a cluster.
‘Berggarten’ Sage prefers full sun with afternoon shade in hot climates.
botanical-name botanical name Salvia officinalis
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-2’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

Sage is a classic perennial herb favorite with its fresh, earthy scent and velvety leaves. Sage varieties have leaves in blue-gray, gold, purple, and tricolor. They also make excellent sensory garden, rock garden, and perennial border additions.

Sage is another Mediterranean plant that grows in full sun but benefits from afternoon shade cover in hot summer climates. It thrives in medium to dry soils – even poor ones – as long as they have excellent drainage. Sage struggles in overly wet conditions.

Look for S. officinalis ‘Berggarten’ (also called ‘Herrenhausen’) for a variety with increased mildew resistance. It features broad, silvery leaves and lavender bloom spikes in summer (sage flowers are edible, too). ‘Berggarten’ won the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit for its ornament and performance.


A close-up of feverfew flowers with white petals encircling bright yellow centers.
This plant benefits from deadheading for continuous flowering.
botanical-name botanical name Tanacetum parthenium
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-8

Feverfew is an old garden favorite for its bushels of petite daisy-like flowers from early summer through frost. White flowers with yellow centers cover the mounding, feathery, aromatic foliage.

Sun-loving feverfew is easy to grow in moist, well-drained soils. It self-seeds hardily, so pull any unwanted volunteers and deadhead spent blooms to prevent unwanted seeding. Deadheading also proliferates flowering. Use feverfew in naturalized areas where it can reseed freely or in borders and rock gardens.

Feverfew is a short-lived perennial that grows for about two to three years. It has longstanding herbal uses, and traditional herbal teas incorporate fresh or dried leaves.

Lemon Verbena

Sunlight illuminates lemon verbena leaves, while a lush backdrop of blurred foliage enhances their natural beauty.
Prune severely in fall and overwinter indoors for optimal growth.
botanical-name botanical name Aloysia citrodora
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2-4’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-10

Lemon verbena is an ornamental herb full of lemony goodness. All plant parts are aromatic. Among the most sweetly fragrant lemon-scented herbs, lemon verbena flourishes in the summer heat and is hardy in mild climates.

Lemon verbena has narrow, dark, glossy green leaves and produces small white flowers. Lemon verbena has a bushy, somewhat sprawling habit. It takes pruning well and is a good fit for growing in containers. In cool climates, cut back container plants severely in the fall and overwinter them in a sheltered area like a garage or basement until spring.

Lemon verbena leaves are delightful in teas, cold beverages, desserts, and potpourris. Grow lemon verbena in consistently moist soils with good drainage in full sun.

Anise Hyssop

Tall, purple anise hyssop flowers in full bloom, emitting a subtle, sweet fragrance into the surrounding garden.
This is a rugged perennial thriving in full sun to partial shade.
botanical-name botanical name Agastache foeniculum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Anise hyssop adds vertical interest with upright stems lined with delicate tubular blooms. The showiest of the native mints, Agastache foeniculum, is an old garden favorite with purple-blue bloom spikes that rise above gray-green, aromatic foliage. Anise hyssop is a rich nectar source for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators.

Agastache foeniculum is native to northern North America and has a widespread range. It’s a rugged perennial that thrives in full sun to partial shade in various well-draining soil types.

Suited for both the herb garden and perennial bed, anise hyssop blooms profusely in summer through frost. Cut back spent blooms to enjoy prolific flowering all season. The minty, anise-flavored leaves make refreshing iced or hot teas.


A dense cluster of lovage leaves, vibrant green and deeply serrated.
Ideal for the back of the border, lovage is a robust herb with tall growth.
botanical-name botanical name Levisticum officinale
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3-6’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

Lovage is an old-fashioned herb with a celery-like flavor in its leaves, stems, and roots. It grows easily and flourishes with new growth when harvested. Plants also self-seed easily from small umbels of spring flowers, so deadhead spent blooms to prevent volunteers.

Lovage is a robust grower that reaches six feet tall, making it ideal for the back of the border. Its leaves are flat and feathery, like those of parsley or celery. Its leafy greens are high in vitamin C and can be added fresh to salads and other dishes, as well as used in teas and cooking.

Lovage grows best in full sun in moist, loamy soils, though, like fennel, it adapts to various soil types and light conditions.

Mountain Mint

A close-up of white mountain mint flowers contrasted against a softly blurred backdrop of green foliage.
The mountain mint thrives in diverse habitats from Texas to Michigan.
botanical-name botanical name Pycnanthemum spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Mountain mint is a valuable native plant in perennial herb gardens for its aromatic, velvety leaves and pink blooms from mid-summer through fall. Silvery flower bracts “dust” the plant in a pearly sheen. This pollinator magnet is showy and informal, well-suited to naturalized arrangements. 

Mountain mint is native to the Eastern U.S., with a wide range that includes Texas and Michigan and on over from Florida to Maine. It grows naturally in grassy, open fields, meadows, and low woodland areas. It prefers moist, rich soils with good drainage in full sun to partial shade.

Mountain mint is a clump-forming woody plant that spreads by rhizomes but isn’t invasive. Cut the roots with a spade to control the spread if the plant gets out of bounds. When crushed, the leaves have a spearmint aroma and are flavorful in cooking and teas.


Tall violet monarda flowers with delicate petals, surrounded by deep green leaves.
Enjoy its long bloom season from early summer to fall.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-4’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Monarda, also known as wild bergamot or bee balm, is native to the eastern U.S. and is a favorite garden performer due to its outstanding scarlet blooms. Two-inch blooms with flared petals cluster on stems above minty foliage. With its bright, tubular flowers, bee balm attracts hummingbirds and beneficial insects.

Numerous hybrids offer vibrant flowers in purple, pink, and red hues. ‘Jacob Cline’ in brilliant red is a hardy variety with good powdery-mildew resistance. The bloom season is long, lasting from early summer through fall. Enjoy the edible flowers and minty leaves as a fresh garnish for salads and drinks, or dry them for use in cooking.

Provide plenty of air circulation, organic soils, and consistent moisture for monarda. Cut back spent blooms to prolong flowering, which lasts from early summer through fall. Monarda spreads by both seeds and rhizomes, so divide plants and weed out volunteers to control the spread.

Final Thoughts

Growing perennial herbs offers a bounty of fresh garden rewards. Edible herbs are also highly ornamental, bringing beauty, interest, and color to the display. They blend beautifully in the herb or vegetable garden and perennial border alike, and pollinators appreciate the pollen and nectar sources.

Selections abound for perennial, edible herbs, and finding the best varieties for your garden depends on your climate. Enjoy the harvest and refreshing rewards of your perennial herbs for years to come.

flowering herbs. Thai basil features narrow, pointed, glossy green leaves with purple stems and distinctive clusters of small, tubular purple flowers.


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Assorted black pots of aromatic herbs rest on the steps of a rustic metal staircase, creating a delightful herb garden display.


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Autumn Sage features aromatic, lance-shaped leaves with scalloped edges and vibrant tubular flowers in shades of red.


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Herbs that grow well together. Close-up of a raised bed containing herbs such as parsley, marjoram, sage, thyme, and mint thriving in a garden setting.


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A wooden raised bed showcases a lush assortment of herbs, vibrant green with pops of purple and white flowers, creating a lively botanical haven in the garden.


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Close-up of an English thyme plant against a blurred background. English thyme is a compact, aromatic herb with slender, woody stems and small, oval-shaped leaves densely arranged along the stems. The leaves are a vibrant shade of green and feature a smooth texture.


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