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CUMINUM cyminum

Image of Cuminum cyminum

Family

Apiaceae

Botanical Name

CUMINUM cyminum

Plant Common Name

Cumin

General Description

Mexican and Indian foods are renowned for their flavors of cumin, but surprisingly this annual herb originates from North Africa along the Mediterranean, most specifically Egypt. It is a fast-growing but short-lived plant that completes its life cycle in only three or four months. Cumin may be grown during the frost-free times of year when temperatures are comfortably cool, such as spring or fall. The cumin spice is the dried fruit and the seeds, which are typically ground.

An upright plant with fine feathery leaves, cumin looks similar to dill or fennel. From a rosette of ferny foliage it sends up upright stems topped with umbrella-like umbels of tiny delicate five-petaled flowers with purplish bases. Insects pollinate the fragrant flowers and the equally fragrant seeds are shed when fruits are fully dry.

Grow cumin in cool sunny locations, ideally in a sandy loam soil with moderate moisture and a neutral to slightly alkaline pH. Excessive summer heat, drought or frost kills plants. In the Mediterranean this herb's seeds are sown in late winter and the dry fruit harvested by spring.

Cumin seed is easily misidentified or confused with caraway seed (Carum carvi). The name "black cumin" doesn't refer to Cuminum cyminum, but rather Nigella sativa or Bunium persicum.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 1

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, H1, H2, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Herb

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    10"-16" / 25.4cm - 40.6cm

  • Width

    10"-12" / 25.4cm - 30.5cm

  • Bloom Time

    Indeterminate

  • Native To

    Mediterranean, Northern Africa

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Very Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    White, Purple

  • Fruit Color

    Tan, Sandy Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    Yes

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Edible, Herb / Vegetable

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes