Free - Download the EBook RiddlesInformational Site Network Informational
Home - List of Herbs and Articles - Rock Garden

Most Viewed Herbs

(archangelica Officinalis Hoffm)
And There Is Pansies That's For Thoughts
Bluebell (wild Hyacinth)
Anemone (wood)
House Leek (crassulaceoe)

Least Viewed Herbs

(archangelica Officinalis Hoffm)
And There Is Pansies That's For Thoughts
Bluebell (wild Hyacinth)
Anemone (wood)
House Leek (crassulaceoe)


(Carum carui, Linn.), a biennial or an annual herb of the
natural order Umbelliferae. Its names, both popular and botanical, are
supposed to be derived from Caria, in Asia Minor, where the plant is
believed first to have attracted attention. From very early ages the
caraway has been esteemed by cooks and doctors, between which a friendly
rivalry might seem to exist, each vying to give it prominence. At the
present time the cooks seem to be in the ascendancy; the seeds or their
oil are rarely used in modern medicine, except to disguise the flavor of
repulsive drugs.

Since caraway seeds were found by O'Heer in the debris of the lake
habitations of Switzerland, the fact seems well established that the
plant is a native of Europe and the probability is increased that the
Careum of Pliny is this same plant, as its use by Apicus would also
indicate. It is mentioned in the twelfth-century writings as grown in
Morocco, and in the thirteenth by the Arabs. As a spice, its use in
England seems to have begun at the close of the fourteenth century. From
its Asiatic home it spread first with Phoenician commerce to western
Europe, whence by later voyageurs it has been carried throughout the
civilized world. So widely has it been distributed that the traveler may
find it in the wilds of Iceland and Scandinavia, the slopes of sunny
Spain, the steeps of the Himalayas, the veldt of southern Africa, the
bush of Australia, the prairies and the pampas of America.

Caraway is largely cultivated in Morocco, and is an important article of
export from Russia, Prussia, and Holland. It has developed no clearly
marked varieties; some specimens, however, seem to be more distinctly
annual than others, though attempts to isolate these and thus secure a
quick-maturing variety seem not to have been made.

Description.--The fleshy root, about 1/2 inch in diameter, is
yellowish externally, whitish within, and has a slight carroty taste.
From it a rosette of finely pinnated leaves is developed, and later the
sparsely leaved, channeled, hollow, branching flower stem which rises
from 18 to 30 inches and during early summer bears umbels of little
white flowers followed by oblong, pointed, somewhat curved, light brown
aromatic fruits--the caraway "seeds" of commerce. These retain their
germinating power for about three years, require about 10,000 seeds to
make an ounce and fifteen ounces to the quart.

Cultivation.--Frequently, if not usually, caraway is sown together
with coriander in the same drills on heavy lands during May or early
June. The coriander, being a quick-maturing plant, may be harvested
before the caraway throws up a flowering stem. Thus two crops may be
secured from the same land in the same time occupied by the caraway
alone. Ordinary thinning to 6 or 8 inches between plants is done when
the seedlings are established. Other requirements of the crop are all
embraced in the practices of clean cultivation.

Harvest occurs in July of the year following the seeding. The plants are
cut about 12 inches above ground with sickles, spread on sheets to dry
for a few days, and later beaten with a light flail. After threshing,
the seed must be spread thinly and turned daily until the last vestige
of moisture has evaporated. From 400 to 800 pounds is the usual range of

If seed be sown as soon as ripe, plants may be secured which mature
earlier than the main crop. Thus six or eight weeks may be saved in the
growing season, and by continuing such selection a quick-maturing strain
may be secured with little effort. This would also obviate the trouble
of keeping seed from one year to the next, for the strain would be
practically a winter annual.

Uses.--Occasionally the leaves and young shoots are eaten either
cooked or as an ingredient in salads. The roots, too, have been esteemed
in some countries, even more highly than the parsnip, which, however,
largely because of its size, has supplanted it for this purpose. But the
seeds are the important part. They find popular use in bread, cheese,
liquors, salads, sauces, soups, candy, and especially in seed cakes,
cookies and comfits. The colorless or pale yellow essential oil
distilled with water from the seeds, which contain between 5% and 7-1/2%
of it, has the characteristic flavor and odor of the fruit. It is
extensively employed in the manufacture of toilet articles, such as
perfumery, and especially soaps.

Next: Catnip

Previous: Borage

Add to Informational Site Network

Viewed 1826