Coriander comfits, sold by the confectioner as admirably warming

to the stomach, and corrective of flatulence, consist of small

aromatic seeds coated with white sugar. These are produced by the

Coriander, an umbelliferous herb cultivated in England from early

times for medicinal and culinary uses, though introduced at first

from the Mediterranean. It has now [123] become wild as an

escape, growing freely in our fields
nd waste places. Farmers

produce it, especially about Essex, under the name of Col, the

crops being mown down when ripe, and the fruits being then

thrashed out to procure the seeds. The generic name has been

derived from koros, a bug; alluding to the stinking odour of the

bruised leaves, though these, when dried, are fragrant, and

pleasant of smell. In some countries, as Egypt and Peru, they are

taken in soups. The seeds are cordial, but become narcotic if used

too freely. When distilled with water they yield a yellow essential

oil of a very aromatic and strong odour.

Coriander water was formerly much esteemed as a carminative for

windy colic. Being so aromatic and comfortably stimulating, the

fruit is commended for aiding the digestion of savoury pastry, and

to correct the griping tendencies of such medicines as senna and

rhubarb. It contains malic acid, tannin, the special volatile oil of

the herb, and some fatty matter.

Distillers of gin make use of this fruit, and veterinary surgeons

employ it as a drug for cattle and horses. Alston says, The green

herb--seeds and all--stinks intolerably of bugs; and Hoffman

admonishes, Si largius sumptura fuerit semen non sine periculo

e sua sede et statu demovet, et qui sumpsere varia dictu pudenda

blaterant. The fruits are blended with curry powder, and are

chosen to flavour several liquors. By the Chinese a power of

conferring immortality is thought to be possessed by the seeds.

From a passage in the Book of Numbers where manna is likened

to Coriander seed, it would seem that this seed was familiar to the

Israelites and used by them for domestic purposes. Robert Turner

says when taken in wine it stimulates the animal passions.