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Cuminum cyminum L.


Cuminum cyminum L.




Ligusticum cuminum (L.) Crantz, Cuminum odorum Salisb.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Jintan puteh.
English Cumin, Roman caraway.
Indonesia Jinten putih (Javanese), jinten bodas (Sundanese), jinten poteh (Madurese).
Thailand Thian-khao, yira.
Myanmar Ziya.
Cambodia Ma chin.
Laos Th'ien kha:w.
French Cumin, faux anis, faux aneth.

Geographical Distributions

The origin of Cuminum cyminum is not known exactly but is believed to be in the area extending from the south-eastern Mediterranean to central Asia (formerly Turkestan). Cuminum cyminum has been known since antiquity. Its cultivation is currently most important in China, India, Morocco, Cyprus, Egypt, Turkey, Iran and southern Russia. In other parts of the world, cultivation is only occasional; in Southeast Asia, it is only grown in mountainous areas.


Cuminum cyminum is an erect to sub-erect annual herb, reaching up to 20-50(-80) cm tall and with thin taproot. All green parts are hairless but usually covered with a bloom. The stem is slightly cylindrical, measures up to 3 mm in diametre, finely grooved and with branches at all heights.

The leaves are arranged alternately, compound and blue-green. The petiole is 2-25 mm long, slightly cylindrical, finely grooved, and with sheathing at the base with scarred margins while the upper leaves are usually only with sheathing. The blade consists of 3 slender leaflets where each leaflet is often forked 2-3 times into slender lobes up to 7 cm long.

The inflorescence is a compound umbel and measures up to 3.5 cm in diametre. The peduncle is slightly cylindrical, measures up to 7 cm long and finely grooved. The bracts are often as many as primary rays, with sheathing at the base, linear and often up to 3-forked into lobes 2-35 mm long. There are 2-10 primary rays per umbel which are cylindrical, unequal in length, measuring up to 18 mm long and finely grooved. There are 3-5 bracteoles per umbellate which are linear, measuring up to 25 mm long, with sheathing at the base and sometimes up to 2-3-forked. Besides, the secondary rays are arranged in 3-8 per umbellate and measure up to 6 mm long. The flowers are bisexual, regular and protandrous. There are 5 sepals which are narrowly triangular, unequal in length and measuring up to 2.5 mm long. The 5 petals are usually all equal, oblong, measuring up to 1.5 mm x 1 mm, whitish at the base and pinkish to reddish at the top. The apex is strongly inflexed and narrow. There are 5 stamens with slender filaments 1.5 mm long. The pistil is with ribbed ovary, with 2 styles on a conical, persistent stylopodium and semi-cylindrical stigma.

The fruit is an ovoid-oblongoid, erect or slightly curved schizocarp, measuring 3.5-6.5 mm x 1-2 mm x 0.8-1.5 mm, crowned by the persistent, sharp stylopodia and with sepal base and yellow-brown. There are 8 primary ribs while the secondary ribs are prominent and alternate with and wider than the primary ones. They are whitish and bristles-like but easily break off. The fruit splits into 2 mericarps with slight pressure. The mericarp is strongly ventrally concave, dorsally convex, usually bears one oil duct (vitta) below at each secondary rib and with two vittae on the commissural ventral side.

The seed is with testa adnate to the fruit wall, with grey endosperm and fatty. Seedling is with epigeal germination.

Ecology / Cultivation

Cuminum cyminum requires rather cool and dry weather with full sunlight for a season of 3-4 months, as can be found in semi-arid areas with a moderate winter or at higher altitudes in the tropics (up to 2200 m). The temperature range is 9-24°C and frost is not tolerated. Cuminum cyminum is a short-day plant. Rich well-drained medium to heavy loams with pH of 6.8-8.3 are optimal.

Line Drawing / Photograph


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  1) Essential Oil


  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No.13: Spices.

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