Carum carvi Linn. (Apiaceae/Umbelliferae).
Kala Jira, Shiajira, Jira
TA kind of caraway called 'Sushava' and 'Krishna-jiraka'
or Black Cumin appears to have been used in Ayurveda before
the introduction of European caraway seeds. This plant is
first mentioned in Arabian literature under the name
Carawiya. The same variety of caraway was known in Persia as
Zireh-I-siyah' and it was principally cultivated for its
aromatic seeds. It was exported and thus spread to other
|It is native to Europe and West
Asia. It grows wild in Himachal Pradesh and is cultivated in
the hills (as summer crop) and in plains of North India (as
annual winter crop) and in the hills of South India.
Morphology Description (Habit)
It is an annual or biennial glabrous herb, valued for its
aromatic seeds. Roots are fusiform and thick. Stem is
slender and the branches are grooved and hollow. The leaves
are pinnately- dissected. Leaflets are ovate, cleft into
linear, entire or dentate lobes. The flowers are in dense
white umbels. In Fruits, the schizocarp are oblong-oval and
yellowish brown in colour. The mericarps are aromatic, 4-6
mm long, hard and sharp, mostly curved, light to dark brown
and with five prominent ribs. The separated mericarps
(commonly called seeds) constitute the commercial caraway.
It has a characteristic agreeable odor and an aromatic,
somewhat warm and sharp taste.
The dried and crushed seeds, on steam distillation, gave a
pale yellow to light brown essential oil (known as CARAWAY
OIL) with a strong aromatic odour. Carvone and limonene are
the chief constituents of the oil and its odour and flavor
are mainly attributed to them.
Carvone is carminative1.
It exhibits neurotropic anti-spasmodic activity.
No toxic effects reported in usage of this plant.
Caraway oil is primarily used like caraway seeds in food
products and in medicine as carminative. Both the seeds and
the essential oil (caraway oil) are classed as carminative
in the I.P. and prescribed in flatulent colic and stomach
- Harbone, J.B., 1999, Phytochemical Dictionary, Taylor
and Francis Ltd., London.