Coriandrum sativum is one of the most ancient herbs in the world, some studies say that it dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans.
It is a plant that grows natively in Southern Europe, Northern Africa, and Southern Asia where it thrives in light woodland, waste places, arable land, and by the sides of rivers where it enjoys the cool temperatures and the shade.
It is easy to grow Cilantro in your own garden or in a container to enjoy a snip of fresh leaves when you cook your favourite dishes.
A great thing about cilantro is that fact that does not represent any threat to your pets. The leaves of the plants are loaded with nutrients and are known for their potential health properties. The Coriandrum sativum plant comes with plenty of benefits and uses – it is a popular aromatic ingredient in different recipes around the world, and it can be brewed in water for delicious teas or even used in the making of beverages such as beer or gin.
Curious to learn more about this versatile aromatic herb? Keep reading our article to find out more about Coriandrum sativum, commonly referred to as Cilantro!
|Botanical Name||Coriandrum sativum|
|Common Name||Coriander, Cilantro, Chinese parsley, dhania|
|Plant Type||Annual herb|
|Mature Size||up to 60 cm (24 in) tall and 50 cm (18 in) wide|
|Sun Exposure||Indirect sun, light shade|
|Soil Type||Loamy, sandy, well-drained soil|
|Soil pH||Mildly acidic to alkaline|
|Flower Color||White, light pink|
|Hardiness Zones||2-11 (USDA)|
|Native Area||Southern Europe, Southwestern Asia, Northern Africa|
About Coriandrum sativum
- Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is an annual plant from the parsley or carrot family, known as the Apiaceae family.
- Cilantro is commonly known as Chinese parsley, dhania or coriander. You might be wondering what the difference between cilantro and coriander is. Both cilantro and coriander refer to the same plant species “Coriandrum sativum”, but the herb is known by different names in different areas of the world.
- The word “cilantro” is the Spanish word for coriander and due to the fact that the word is extensively used in Mexican cuisine, the word “cilantro” is now commonly used in American English too. As a general rule, people use “cilantro” when it comes to the leaves and stalks of the plant, meanwhile, they use “coriander” when they refer to the dried seeds.
- Although they come from the same plant, the leaves and stalks have different nutrient profiles, tastes and uses than dried seeds.
- This versatile herb comes from the regions between Southern Europe and Northern Africa to Southern Asia and it grows spontaneously in an extensive area of Western Asia and Southern Europe.
- Researchers have found that the Coriander plants that grow in Israel and Portugal might be the forefathers of the now widely cultivated cilantro.
- As mentioned above, Coriander has a lot of history and the proof that cilantro was cultivated in ancient Egyptian gardens is represented by the recovery of coriander seed from the tomb of Tutankhamun.
- In addition to that, the Chinese used the herb in potions in an attempt to achieve immortality, while in other cultures the plant was used as an aphrodisiac or appetite stimulant.
- In cooking, it’s best to add the fresh cilantro leaves just before serving because heat may diminish their taste. Here are some examples of dishes where fresh leaves of cilantro are utilised: salsa, guacamole, Indian origin sauces like chutney or acorda which is a Portuguese bread soup.
- The seeds of the Cilantro plant can be added to dishes dried or heated due to the fact that thermic treatment tends to intensify the aroma. The roasted seeds can be combined in curries, rice dishes, soups and stews, pickled vegetables or meat rubs. When it is used as a spice, coriander can be joined with cumin and cinnamon as they have related flavour features.
- Cilantro seeds are used in brewing a few styles of beer, especially in Belgium, where many varieties of wheat beer are made. The seeds are used along with orange peel in order to add that citrus flavour to beer. Cilantro seeds are frequently used to enhance the flavour of gin.
- If you want to enjoy the rich flavour of the cilantro leaves you have to choose them carefully. When purchasing, choose leaves that are green and scented, avoid choosing yellow leaves because at that stage they don’t tend to be less flavourful.
- The seeds of cilantro are best purchased as whole seeds, rather than powder or ground seeds. If the seeds are ground, they lose their aroma faster than when they are stored as whole seeds. The best and most intense aroma of the product is when the product is ground right before use.
- If you want to store the cilantro leaves, you have to cut the bottom of the stems and put the bunch in a jar with water and store it in the refrigerator. You will have to check the plant from time to time for any yellow leaves and change the water.
- Cilantro is well known for the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that it provides and is thought to have significant benefits for our health. Cilantro leaves and seeds are rich in vitamin K, which has an important function in the prevention of blood clots. Additionally, cilantro seeds are full of antioxidants which fight against free radicals in our body and they may also decrease ageing signs. However, if consumed in very large quantities, cilantro can have a narcotic effect.
- An important feature of fresh cilantro is that it contains 92.2% water, 4% carbohydrates, 2% protein and less than 1% fat. Cilantro roots are more flavorful than the leaves of the plant and are used in soups and curry pastes in Thai dishes.
Coriandrum sativum Features: An Overview
- All parts of the plant can be eaten, but the most common parts of the plant used for seasoning food are the fresh leaves and the dried seeds, both of which are used as herbs and spices also. Another important part of the plant is the root of cilantro which is widely used in Thai cooking.
- Many people perceive the taste of the leaves and stalks as being quite similar to lemon or lime, while others think it tastes bad and compare it to “dish soap”. Whereas, the seeds of Coriandrum sativum seem to have a more agreeable flavour and smell for everyone. The flavour is defined as being nutty, warm or a little spicy.
- The plant grows up to 50 cm (20 in) tall. The shape of the leaves is variable, broadly lobed at the base of the plant and slender and feathery higher on the flowering stems and it resembles the European parsley to some extent.
- The flowers are small and the colour varies from white to very pale pink. The inner part of the petal is narrower than the exterior part.
- Cilantro leaves have high levels of vitamins, especially vitamin K, but fewer minerals, meanwhile, the seeds have lower levels of vitamins and more minerals.
- Cilantro is considered to be a great companion to many plants in the garden because it attracts many beneficial insects and may also help a certain category of plants to grow faster. The beneficial insects attracted by cilantro have an important role in preventing pest infestations.
- The plants that can be grown alongside cilantro are leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, cabbage and kale or vegetables like potato and tomato. If you want to take advantage of the ornamental value of Cilantro you can plant it near other small-flowered ornamental plants such as creeping thyme and sweet alyssum.
- As Cilantro blooms in mid-summer, you can grow it alongside plants that bloom in the same period such as dill and fern leaf lavender.
- If you plan on growing Cilantro in your herb garden, you’ll be happy to learn that it is a perfect companion for anise, mint and basil. Experienced gardeners avoid planting Cilantro and other herbs near fennel as it produces a substance that inhibits the growth of herbs.
Growing Coriandrum sativum
Cilantro grows in moist but well-drained compost or soil and its active growth period is from spring to autumn. For a good summer harvest, you should sow seeds every two weeks and water the cilantro plant regularly. Plant cilantro during the cool period of fall or early spring, about a month before the last frost.
Regarding lighting, cilantro needs to receive full sun, though it will also tolerate light shade in the South and Southwest where the sun is intense.
A great thing about cilantro is that if you live in a climate where the winter is mild, you can enjoy the longest season of the harvest period as this plant moves through its life cycle very quickly.
Cilantro is usually considered to be a very easy plant to grow and take care of, especially because the only problem that can appear at the young seedlings is that slugs and snails may eat them. Occasionally may appear some issues with the aphids and whitefly. Otherwise is a pretty strong plant regarding pests and diseases.
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Planting Coriandrum Sativum
Cilantro is usually planted outdoors where it grows best in cool and dry climates. It can handle direct afternoon sun in the northern areas, while in the southern climates, it requires some shade in the afternoon. The plants tend to wilt quickly in hot climates.
The Coriander planting process is quite simple – you can mix compost with the soil where you intend to plant it as it will enhance the soil structure and improve drainage. In general, gardeners like to grow it in one corner of the garden and allow it to reseed itself the entire season. Another important aspect is to weed regularly around the plants to stop the weeds use the vital nutrients of the plant.
Coriandrum sativum can be planted indoors too because indoors, the temperatures are cooler than during the hot summer months. Therefore, the plants that grow in a container will not wilt as quickly as the plants are grown outdoors. It is important to remember that when you choose to grow the plant indoors, you have to provide your plants with 5-6 hours of direct sunlight daily.
Another aspect that you have to take care of is the pot or container which has to be made of terracotta, glazed clay or plastic. If you decide to grow one plant a 20 cm pot is enough, but for three plants you have to choose a bigger pot, like 30 cm and check if the pot has drainage holes.
Watering Coriandrum Sativum
You will have to be a bit careful when it comes to watering cilantro as the quantity of water and the frequency may depend on some external factors. Plants that grow outdoors will have different watering needs than plants that are grown indoors, in containers.
In general, coriander plants have to be well watered, but not overwatered. This means that the soil has to be constantly and evenly damp, but not soggy. In general, cilantro does not need any additional nutrients.
When it comes to watering Coriandrum sativum, it is important to check the soil before you add more water. If the soil is damp to the touch, your plant has enough moisture.
Propagating Coriandrum Sativum
Coriandrum Sativum can be propagated in two ways: the first way is from the seed. This is the most simple way of propagating the plant. A few weeks after the flowers become black, you will start to notice the brown seeds. The collected seeds can be sown directly outdoors. The seeds can be sowed in multi-cell trays or directly outside into the soil or in pots.
The seeds have to be planted in 1 cm deep rows 30 cm apart. In general, the germination process will take between 7 and 20 days. If you feel that the process is a bit slow, you can speed it up a little by crushing the seeds gently before sowing them. The seedings should be thinned out at 25 cm apart. For a constant supply, you should sow regularly throughout the summer. You can sow seeds until late in the season for winter use.
Another effective way to propagate cilantro is through cuttings. To achieve good results, all you have to do is to cut an 8-13 cm long healthy stem, just below the node where the leaves grow. Next, remove the lower part of the leaves and place the cuttings in water. Keep in mind that the plant has to remain in indirect sunlight at a constant temperature.
The roots will usually start to grow after a few days. Once the roots are long and strong enough, the plant can be planted in a different container or in the garden. It is important to be gentle during the process to avoid damaging the plant’s roots.
Propagating cilantro through cuttings is not always reliable because there are cases when roots will not grow from the cuttings. This is the reason why seed propagation is a more effective and popular method.
Coriandrum sativum is a versatile aromatic herb with a rich history that is commonly used in many dishes around the world, in teas or in alcoholic beverages. It makes a perfect plant for an indoor herb garden, a vegetable garden, a cottage garden, or a balcony herb garden as it is not very hard to grow and it only needs sufficient water and a little attention from time to time. It is one of those low-maintenance plants that doesn’t require too much attention and that will reward gardeners with fresh aromatic herbs and seeds.
Are you growing Coriandrum sativum in your herb garden? Let us know in the comments section!